Chemical pesticides play an important role in providing Americans with an abundant and inexpensive food supply. However, these chemicals can have adverse effects on human health and the environment, and pests continue to develop resistance to them. Sustainable and effective agricultural pest management will require continued development and increased use of alternative pest management strategies, such as integrated pest management (IPM). Some IPM practices yield significant environmental and economic benefits in certain crops, and IPM can lead to better long-term pest management than chemical control alone. However, the federal commitment to IPM has waned over the years. The IPM initiative is missing several key management elements identified in the Government Performance and Results Act. Specifically, no one is effectively in charge of federal IPM efforts; coordination of IPM efforts is lacking among federal agencies and with the private sector; the intended results of these efforts have not been clearly articulated or prioritized; and methods for measuring IPM's environmental and economic results have not been developed. Until these shortcomings are addressed, the full range of potential benefits that IPM can yield for producers, the public, and the environment is unlikely to be realized.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Agriculture||The Secretary of Agriculture should establish effective department-wide leadership, coordination, and management for federally-funded IPM efforts.|
|Department of Agriculture||The Secretary of Agriculture should clearly articulate and prioritize the results the department wants to achieve from its IPM efforts, focus IPM efforts and resources on those results, and set measurable goals for achieving those results.|
|Department of Agriculture||The Secretary of Agriculture should develop a method for measuring the progress of federally-funded IPM activities toward the stated goals of the IPM initiative.|
|Department of Agriculture||If the Secretary of Agriculture determines that reducing the risks of pesticides to human health and the environment is an intended result of the IPM initiative, the Secretary of Agriculture should also collaborate with the Environmental Protection Agency to focus IPM research, outreach, and implementation on the pest management strategies that offer the greatest potential to reduce the risks associated with agricultural pesticides.|