The U.S. Environmental Protection agency should create a new program that would allow U.S. farmers easier access to EPA-approved pesticides available for sale in Canada, says North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson.
Johnson says that Canadian growers have access to lower-priced U.S. pesticides through the Canadian Grower Requested Own Use Program created by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency in 2007.
"A parallel program to GROU does not exist to allow U.S. producers to purchase and re-label lower-priced Canadian pesticides that are shown to be identical to products registered in the U.S.," Johnson wrote a letter to EPA officials. "This is fundamentally unfair since it puts U.S. growers at an economic disadvantage."
Under the GROU program, Canadian growers are allowed to purchase certain pesticides in the United States, re-label those products with Canadian pesticide labels, and import those products into Canada for their own use.
Twelve U.S. pesticides are covered under the GROU, and Canadian growers may have access to more than 20 eligible pesticides in the program by the 2009 growing season.
"From a regulatory perspective, it makes no sense to disallow U.S. stakeholders to access lower-priced Canadian pesticides when it can be demonstrated that those products are identical to formulations registered in the United States," Johnson says.
In 2000, Johnson authorized North Dakota growers to import a lower-priced Canadian herbicide called Achieve 80DG under a system almost identical to that allowed under the Canadian Grower Requested Own Use program. EPA put a halt to the program to re-label and import Canadian Achieve 80DG in a matter of days.
"I question why EPA would allow Canadian growers to re-label American pesticides at U.S. locations other than registered EPA establishments when the Agency ruled that re-labeling of Canadian Achieve by U.S. growers in Canada was illegal," Johnson says.
Johnson says that he believes programs such as GROU must be available to growers on both sides of the border until there is widespread adoption of NAFTA pesticide labeling.
"In my opinion, the best means to allow for the cross-border of pesticide products between the U.S. and Canada is through the use of NAFTA pesticide labeling, thereby eliminating the need for re-labeling of containers prior to import," Johnson says.
"The current agricultural economy is extremely precarious, and producers are constantly looking for means to increase their marginal returns. Saving just a few dollars per acre on the cost of inputs, or gaining just a few dollars in revenue, is often the difference between a profit and a loss."
Source: ND Department of Agriculture