SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE IMPLICATIONS OF BANNING METHYL BROMIDE FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PRODUCTION
LIVESTOCK AND HORTICULTURE
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JULY 13, 2000
Serial No. 10657
Printed for the use of the Committee on Agriculture
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LARRY COMBEST, Texas, Chairman
BILL BARRETT, Nebraska,
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
NICK SMITH, Michigan
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
KEN CALVERT, California
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
BOB RILEY, Alabama
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
DOUG OSE, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ERNIE FLETCHER, Kentucky
CHARLES W. STENHOLM, Texas,
Ranking Minority Member
GARY A. CONDIT, California
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina
DAVID MINGE, Minnesota
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
EARL POMEROY, North Dakota
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
SANFORD D. BISHOP, Jr., Georgia
BENNIE G. THOMPSON, Mississippi
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
CHRISTOPHER JOHN, Louisiana
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
DAVID D. PHELPS, Illinois
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCKEN LUCAS, Kentucky
MIKE THOMPSON, California
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
JOE BACA, California
WILLIAM E. O'CONNER, JR., Staff Director
LANCE KOTSCHWAR, Chief Counsel
STEPHEN HATERIUS, Minority Staff Director
KEITH WILLIAMS, Communications Director
Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture
RICHARD W. POMBO, California, Chairman
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio,
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
KEN CALVERT, California
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBOB RILEY, Alabama
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota,
Ranking Minority Member
TIM HOLDEN, California
GARY A. CONDIT, Pennsylvania
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
KEN LUCAS, Kentucky
C O N T E N T S
Bishop, Hon. Sanford D., Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Georgia, prepared statement
Miller, Hon. Dan, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida, opening statement
Peterson, Hon. Collin C., a Representative in Congress from the State of Minnesota, opening statement
Pombo, Hon. Richard W., a Representative in Congress from the State of California, opening statement
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWitnesses
Carpenter, Janet E., research associate, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy
Culbertson, James, executive manager, California Cherry Export Association
Driver, Robert, on behalf of the California Walnut Commission, and the Walnut Grower Association
Duniway, John, professor of plant pathology, University of California at Davis
Enebak, Scott A., associate professor, School of Forestry and Wildlife Science, Auburn University
Loop, Carl B., president, Florida Farm Federation Bureau
Martinez, Cecil, strawberry grower, Oxnard, CA
Noling, Joseph W., associate professor of nematology, Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, CA
Norton, Mark, vice-president, production, Bay State Milling Co.
Taylor, R. Jay, president, Taylor and Fulton, Inc.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement
EDEN Bioscience Corporation, statement
THE IMPLICATIONS OF BANNING METHYL BROMIDE FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PRODUCTION
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2000
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture,
Committee on Agriculture,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m. in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Richard W. Pombo (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lucas of Oklahoma, Gutknecht, Riley, Peterson, Holden, Dooley, Berry, Etheridge, Boswell, and Lucas of Kentucky.
Also present: Moran of Kansas, Miller of Florida.
Staff present: David Ebersole, John Goldberg, Christopher D'Arcy, Brent Gattis, Wanda Worsham, clerk; Callista Bisek and Danelle Farmer.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD W. POMBO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. POMBO. We are going to call this hearing to order.
This meeting of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture to receive testimony on implications of banning methyl bromide for fruit and vegetable production will come to order.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today the Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture will exercise its oversight responsibility with regard to the implications of the American fruit and vegetable production should methyl bromide be banned from use. This morning we will hear from the people who are most directly affected by this issue: people whose lives and livelihood are in production agriculture.
It is my hope that this testimony will guide policymakers, both here in Congress and in the administration, on how to tackle this contentious matter and to achieve a balance that doesn't leave our farmers out of the equation. We will also explore with representatives of the scientific community the availability of possible transition products from methyl bromide and the economic consequences of a pending ban.
As many of you know, methyl bromide is a broad-spectrum, pest-control tool used to manage pests in soil, on commodities, and in structures. Methyl bromide is used in production, storage, shipping, and processing of over 100 crops, including tomatoes, strawberries, beans, baled cotton, potatoes, watermelons, walnuts, and many, many more.
It is clear that American farmers and producers from coast to coast depend on this product. Concerns over ozone-depleting properties associated with methyl bromide led to a phaseout schedule.
The Montreal Protocol, in which 167 countries, including the United States are parties to, set the standards for reducing ozone-depleting substances worldwide. Under the Montreal Protocol, developed countries are to phase out the use of methyl bromide by 100 percent in 2005 from the 1991 baseline.
Back in January, 1994, under requirements of the Clean Air Act, the EPA took a much-stricter approach to the phaseout process than that called for in the Montreal Protocol and capped production and consumption of methyl bromide at 1991 levels, with a phaseout to be completed by the year 2000, years ahead of the Montreal Protocol's schedule. However, due to the lack of both a transitional product, as well as clear understanding of the economic implications involved, Congress, in October 1998 amended the Clean Air Act, requiring EPA to adopt regulations permitting the continued use of this essential fumigant by American farmers. The EPA has yet to enact these final regulations, and American growers are left in the dark as to what these regulations will entail.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Without proper enactment of new regulations, American farmers will not be able to use methyl bromide after January 1, 2001, even though our agricultural competitors around the world, like Mexico, Chile, China, and Brazil, will have free access to the product for another 15 years.
This spring I introduced H.R. 4215, the Methyl Bromide Fairness Act. This legislation will provide a more-level playing field for our American farmers. Currently, I am unaware of any safe and effective product that could replace methyl bromide in the wide range of applications for which it currently is used.
If American farmers do not have access to methyl bromide or a viable option in less than one year, I believe they will be at a tremendous disadvantage compared to our foreign competitors.
I look forward to today's testimony, and I thank all of the witnesses who have taken the time to be here. Your contribution to this process is very important, and I want to ensure your voices are heard.
I would like at this time to turn to the ranking member, Mr. Peterson, for his opening statement.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. COLLIN C. PETERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing today on the implications of banning methyl bromide for fruit and vegetable production. This is obviously an issue of great concern to American agriculture.
Without a doubt, protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our food supply is a priority; however, we must also consider the impact decisions such as the elimination of crop production tools has on the American farmer and the American consumer.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As we are currently in the process of phasing out the use of methyl bromide and ultimately banning it, we have left many of or growers in a situation where there are often no economically viable and effective alternatives. In addition, as a result of EPA's implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act, growers are finding that more and more of their other crop protection tools will no longer be available to them. Unfortunately, this is not the only economic challenge facing America's farmers today. Low prices, disease, and extreme weather, among other things, have had a very negative impact on growers' incomes.
I believe we can work together to find a balance that allows us to meet the goals of a safe food supply and affordable, effective tools for farmers, while maintaining our ability to offer the safe, abundant, and affordable food supply that American consumers enjoy and expect.
Again, I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today and look forward to hearing the witnesses.
As we discussed, I have got to go over and make a statement in the Small Business Committee on this snow mobile ban, so I will be gone for just a little bit, but Mr. Holden is going to be here and I will be back as soon as I can.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
I would like to ask unanimous consent that Mr. Miller of Florida be allowed to sit on the dais with the subcommittee and to make statements and ask questions with the subcommittee. Without objection.
Mr. Miller, did you have a statement you would like to make at this time?
Mr. MILLER. May I make a brief one, sir?
Mr. POMBO. Yes.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DAN MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
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Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in the hearing today. As you know, I have worked on the methyl bromide issue for many years, and I have one of my constituents on the first panel.
The ability to use methyl bromide or the discovery of an effective and affordable alternative is absolutely crucial to the interest of American agriculture, especially Florida tomato growers.
Two years ago I worked with Congressman Vic Fazio on legislative language to delay methyl bromide phaseout until 2005 instead of the previously scheduled 2001 date. We had hoped that the USDA would have made progress on an effective alternative before the severe phaseout reductions under the Montreal Protocol began, but it appears that very little progress has been made and our farmers are once again in danger of being denied a competitive playing field, so this is a very crucial issue for my area and I appreciate very much having the hearing.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, and thank you for joining us today.
Additional statements by Members will be accepted at this time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bishop follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SANFORD D. BISHOP, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA
I would like to thank this subcommittee for allowing me to give this statement. This hearing is very important to growers nationwide and especially to growers in the Second Congressional District of Georgia.
Methyl bromide is of great importance for fumigating soil-borne diseases in row crop agricultural production and forest nurseries in Georgia. This crop protection product is necessary to grow, store, ship, process or trade crops. Requiring the phase-out of methyl bromide without a quality replacement products will only force the agricultural industry to lose its competitive position.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The impact on Georgia could be devastating. And for the entire country, the annual cost of the phase-out to U.S. producers could range between $400 million to $450 million if alternatives are not found for growers. For instance, forest nurseries producing longleaf pines could experience up to $18,000 per acre in seed losses according to industry trials. The losses in wood production could exceed $130 million per year.
By allowing the continuation of methyl bromide in accordance with the phase-out schedule of the Montreal Protocol, which provides for a January 1, 2015 production termination deadline, science will have the time needed to seek out comparable products and provide the necessary research and testing on the overall impacts of different technologies.
That is why I am a co-sponsor of H. R. 4215, to amend title VI of the Clean Air Act with respect to this phase-out schedule for methyl bromide. I thank Chairman Pombo and Ranking Member Peterson for holding this important hearing to move the process towards passage of H.R. 4215.
Mr. POMBO. I would like to welcome our witnesses and ask that they help us meet our time constraints by summarizing their oral testimony as quickly as possible. We would like to give Members adequate opportunity to ask questions. Your entire written statement will be included in the hearing record.
I would like to welcome our first panel: Mr. Carl Loop, Jr., Mr. Robert Driver, Mr. Cecil Martinez, Mr. Mark Norton, Mr. R. Jay Taylor, and Mr. James Culbertson. I would like to welcome you all here. I know most of you had to travel a considerable distance to be here. I appreciate your coming in.
Mr. Loop, it is nice to see you again. If you are ready, you may begin.
STATEMENT OF CARL B. LOOP, JR., PRESIDENT, FLORIDA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION, ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU ASSOCIATION
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Mr. LOOP. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am Carl Loop. I am president of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. I also own and operate Loop's Nursery and Greenhouses, where my family and I raise flowering pot plants and other nursery crops in Jacksonville, FL.
I am appearing before you today on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents more than 4.9 million member families in every State and Puerto Rico.
I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the implications of a methyl bromide phaseout, not only as it applies to growers in my home State but growers across the United States as well.
I must also mention the need for Congress to consider this issue with the likely pesticide losses caused by EPA's implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act.
When EPA first announced its intention to phase out methyl bromide use in 1993, it was thought that an alternative to methyl bromide would be found if researchers were forced to find one. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with methyl bromide for several reasons.
First, methyl bromide is unique because it is a broad-spectrum compound that kills a large number of destructive pests. So far scientists have been unable to reproduce anything like it.
Second, the market for methyl bromide alternatives is small. Finding a new alternative will take millions in research, production, and registration costs. There is little economic incentive for companies to look for a replacement.
Third, Federal law virtually guarantees that even if an alternative were found it would not be ready in time for the 2005 phaseout deadline. Even if a promising alternative were found today, registration would not likely produce a legal, usable product for several years.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The USDA and various land grant universities have examined the economic implications of a methyl bromide phaseout. All have concluded that the loss of methyl bromide will hit strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers hardest, because in California and Florida, producing the majority of U.S. production of these commodities, the loss of methyl bromide will hit Florida and California especially hard with a $218 million loss in revenue for producers.
According to USDA, Florida accounts for about 38 percent of the pre-planned methyl bromide use in the United States and produces approximately 45 percent of all the fresh tomatoes consumed in the United States. This production has dropped approximately 40 percent, largely due to competition from Mexico. Because Mexico will not phase out methyl bromide use until 2015, the loss of methyl bromide will increase this trend.
The situation for strawberries is similar. Over 99 percent of Florida's strawberry acreage is fumigated with methyl bromide. The loss of methyl bromide without an effective and economical alternative makes it unlikely that strawberry growers will be able to compete with Mexico.
California strawberry growers fare far worse and can expect a loss of 15 to 20 percent in produce and revenue without methyl bromide.
There has been a lot of activity surrounding the efforts to find an alternative for methyl bromide. In a report issued in 1998 by the Methyl Bromide Technical Option Committee, they stated, ''Alternatives have been identified for virtually all uses of methyl bromide, and many of them are in use in different places around the world.'' While Farm Bureau agrees that there are good replacements for methyl bromide for certain uses, most of the replacements are either too costly, far less effective, or impractical to implement on farms.
In 1995, one alternative discussed was heat sterilization, and EPA listed it as a top alternative. To treat a 50-acre strawberry field, it would take 16 days of 24-hour operation. Worse yet, this technology uses up to 70,000 gallons of water and 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel per acre, and heat sterilization doesn't kill anything other than nematodes. More pesticides are needed for insect, weed, and disease control. While heat sterilization looked promising in 1995, it has now been removed from the list of effective alternatives.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is clear that unless viable alternatives to methyl bromide are found, U.S. agriculture will be at a competitive disadvantage in domestic and international markets. Developing countries will receive up to a 10-year grace period of the use of ethyl bromide after the 2005 ban for the United States and other developed countries.
U.S. farmers are already having difficulty competing with developing countries. If practical and effective alternatives to methyl bromide are not identified, registered, and made available to growers soon, the competitive position of U.S. farmers will be further degraded.
In closing, farmers need more time to find effective alternatives. As such, Farm Bureau policy supports an extension of the phaseout date until viable alternatives are found. No one is served by where we are nownot the environment, not consumers, and clearly not U.S. growers.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage Congress to consider extending the phaseout date until effective and economical replacements can be found for critical methyl bromide uses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to be here this morning. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Loop appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you. Mr. Driver.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT DRIVER, ON BEHALF OF THE CALIFORNIA WALNUT COMMISSION, WALNUT GROWER, NURSERYMAN, AND MEMBER OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF DIAMOND WALNUT, MODESTO, CA
Mr. DRIVER. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Robert Driver. I am a fourth-generation walnut grower and nurseryman from Modesto, CA. My mother's family has lived and farmed in the Wood Colony district of Modesto since 1900, and my father's family farmed in the Los Angeles Basin before moving to Modesto in 1948. I consider it a privilege to be a farmer.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am here to testify on behalf of the California Walnut Commission. The Commission represents the entire walnut industry of the United States. The U.S. English walnut industry represents about $500 million in annual revenue derived from an average crop size of 235,000 short tons of in-shell walnuts worth approximately $250 million in farm gate value.
There are about 3,000 full-time and seasonal employees that work in the U.S. walnut production plants. There are roughly 7,000 growers who raise the walnut crop, along with an additional approximately 7,000 people who are year-round or seasonably employed in the walnut industry. Ultimately, it is estimated that the walnut industry has an additional extended impact on California employment totaling 44,000 jobs.
Methyl bromide is now in the phaseout period and is facing an uncertain future short of legislative action to provide extended use of this critically-important product. Methyl bromide is a vitally-important fumigant for a variety of domestic industries. It is used on over 100 crops in California, nationally, and internationally to prevent serious insect damage such as nematodes, and many commodities, including walnuts, need methyl bromide for pre-plant fumigation.
I am a nurseryman by trade, growing almond trees, walnuts, and peach trees, and the certification program of California is built around methyl bromide as a key fumigant.
Dried fruit, net crops, grains, and even museum artifacts require fumigant for storage purposes. Its use is mandated by many foreign nations, such as Japan, which, by the way, happens to be California's most profitable export market.
Today I would like to discuss two specific issues.
First, the methyl bromide extensionthe Montreal Protocol's phaseout for methyl bromide was revised in September, 1997, to expedite eliminating use of the fumigant. Prior to this, complete phaseout for developed countries was scheduled for 2010. Now the revised phaseout requires developed countries to phase out 25 percent of its use by 1999, 50 percent by 2001, 70 percent by 2003, and a full phaseout by 2005.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We that are in agriculture know that developing countries have until 2015 to completely phase out methyl bromide.
As the walnut industry looks at its future, I am keenly aware of the fact that China is planting thousands of acres of additional walnuts. Many people do not know that China is positioning itself to become a major producer in the world market, and China has one of the newest plants to produce methyl bromide, and the threat to the California walnut industry from China is real. A trade mission within the last year of California walnut growers visited key producing areas within China, and they observed one nursery in one province that was producing as many trees or planting as the entire California walnut nursery industry.
The disadvantage will not begin in the year 2005, it is now. The day before yesterday I spoke with my fumigator in the company that does our fumigation in our nursery business and asked him what were the prospects of my growers, people that buy my product, my trees, what were the prospects of their being able to fumigate this year, and he indicated to me that they were trying to talk as many of them out of using methyl bromide as possible because the phaseout is already having an effect today.
Legislation was passed 2 years ago by Representative Vic Fazio that allowed for expanded quarantine of pre-shipment definitions and critical agricultural uses. Currently, the EPA is working on a proposed rule that will implement changes to these definitions. In Beijing last December the Montreal Protocol met and decided to redefine the pre-shipment definition to within 21 days of export. I am sorry, 21 days only covers about 30 percent of what we would grow in the California walnut industry. We must store approximately 70 percent. For some members in some years 60 percent of the crop must be stored for up to a year. If we cannot protect that part of the crop, we stand to lose it to the infestation of meal moth and other insects that would take away the value of that crop.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, and as others have testified, the scientific underpinnings of this debate can and have been seriously questioned. When the United Nations environmental program, itself, says that they have over-estimated the ozone depletion potential of methyl bromide and they add that continuing scientific uncertainties remain, it should make people question the policy that brings us to this hearing. No one disputes that the interim phaseout or the inability of the use of methyl bromide come January 2001 will be devastating to the agriculture industry of this Nation.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would encourage you to give us some legislative relief in the area of allowing us to use this vital product. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Driver appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Martinez.
STATEMENT OF CECIL MARTINEZ, STRAWBERRY GROWER, OXNARD, CA
Mr. MARTINEZ. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Cecil Martinez. I am a strawberry grower in Ventura County, CA. I farm 88 acres of strawberries and employ approximately 200 people. I have served on the California Strawberry Commission for 5 years as a member of the Research Committee, and for the last two seasons I have been chairman of the Plant Pathology Subcommittee, which has directed our methyl bromide alternative research.
As a farmer, I have always been an experimenter. I am always seeking new ways to make my farm efficient, more productive, and safe. That is why I have made my land available for methyl bromide alternative trials conducted by the Strawberry Commission, USDA, and the University of California for the last 3 years. I think I can talk about the viability of the alternative to methyl bromide available to California farmers from the basis of a hands-on, practical, and scientific expertise.
The California Strawberry industry shares the same fate as literally hundreds of agricultural industries throughout the United States. The crops we produce are diverse, but we share a common concern about potential loss of an important crop protection tool, methyl bromide. Our message is simple: the current phaseout of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol will cause serious economic disruption to many segments of American agriculture, economic losses to communities that are reliant on our farms, the loss of jobs, and a loss of international competitiveness.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is used in the strawberry industry as a pre-plant soil treatment. Essentially, it disinfects the soil. It eliminates various pathogens on pests that can attack the delicate root system of newly-planted crops. For many crops, methyl bromide is used in both foundation nurseries as well as in fruiting fields. The loss of methyl bromide on my farm will result in stunted plants, loss of productionI guarantee youincreased costs, and loss of jobs. Weak plants, the difficulties of controlling weeds and higher incidence of soil-borne diseases, also jeopardizes my integrated pest management strategies. Using cultural practices and releasing beneficial insects to control harmful pests simply cannot succeed when plants are too week to protect themselves or the pest load is too high.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a couple of seconds to explain to the committee what happens when we use less-effective alternatives to methyl bromide. First, the root system plant, itself, is weak. Research has shown that plants we receive from the nursery not treated with methyl bromide will be weaker and may carry diseases such as phytophthora and verticillium.
Most of these diseases can cause severe plant stunting and even mortality. In years where we have heavy rains, these diseases can spread and kill large sections of the field, so right from the beginning we are building on a weak foundation. As these plants mature, they are vulnerable to other soil-borne diseases and foliar diseases and their natural resistance to pests such as two-spotted spider mites and white flies is diminished. Weak and diseased plants actually become a breeding ground for insect pests that can rapidly spread throughout my field.
Also, methyl bromide controls weeds. Failures to control weeds with this product require more time, labor, and money to try and control them. Also, weeds, themselves, can harbor many diseases and pests.
Finally, the combination of less-productive plants and less-desirable environment has a tremendous impact on labor. Pulling weeds by hand instead of picking strawberries, more insect pests in the field, harder-to-pick strawberriesput all of this together, and I don't know if I can keep a crew.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Various researchers have investigated possible methyl bromide alternatives for strawberries. Currently, these researchers believe that cultivation of strawberries without fumigation is not viable. Significant yield reductions will occur in the fruiting cycle without fumigation. In addition, the soil deteriorates over several years with additional substantial reduction in yield.
In short, all of the alternatives that have been suggested for methyl bromide are less effective, require more time and expense, and are often less environmentally friendly then methyl bromide. With further research, we might be able to mitigate these issues, but that takes time. We cannot overcome this. In California, many of these products are severely restricted or not yet registered for use. That also takes time.
This is important to keep in mind also that the strawberry farmers in the United States are still at a serious competitive disadvantage versus our international competitors, particularly those just a few miles south in Mexico. I want to emphasize that the viability of an alternative to methyl bromide is directly linked to the regulation of our competitors. Farmers in California must reduce the use of methyl bromide 50 percent next year and 70 percent in 2003.
On the other hand, developing nations, the countries with whom we compete most directly, like Mexico, Chile, China, India, face only a freeze in 2002, a 20 percent reduction in 2005, and no phaseout until 2015. In fact, use of methyl bromide is substantially increasing in these countries and will continue to increase from now until 2002, the very time when American farmers face a radical alteration of our farming system due to the loss of methyl bromide.
It is also important to note that the American farmer must adhere to the substantially higher standard of wages and hour laws, field sanitation, and environmental regulation than our competitors. These things increased our cost of farming, and we have dealt with these increases by becoming efficient. We can't do that if a vital tool of our production systems is removed without a viable alternative Our competitors can solve a lot of problems with cheap labor. We don't have that option in the United States, nor do we want it, but you can imagine how difficult it will be to compete with farmers who have cheap labor, less-stringent environmental standards, and methyl bromide.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to conclude by saying that my opinion on these matters are based on extensive research conducted by the California Strawberry Commission, and in many cases on my farm.
Despite significant efforts to find viable alternatives, we have not been successful. We simply need more time to refine the limited alternative available to us and allow time for the regulatory process to make potentially viable alternatives available.
I am not an atmospheric scientist, but I have read extensively summaries of the reports from various scientists and the U.N. environmental program, itself. It seems to me that the science supporting the phaseout of methyl bromide is far from conclusive. As a farmer, we are being asked to face a severe economic disruption and to use less environmentally-sound tools, not just for the strawberry industry but for literally hundreds of agricultural industries around the world, so we urge the Congress to seriously consider a thorough review of the state of scientific evidence on the ozone depletion effects of methyl bromide by an independent scientific panel of U.S. experts on ozone depletion before additional reduction in availability of these chemicals are made.
I want to thank you for this opportunity to testify on this important issue to the agricultural community. The time is now, not 2005, or I will become an endangered species. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Martinez appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Norton.
STATEMENT OF MARK NORTON, VICE-PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION, BAY STATE MILLING COMPANY, WINONA, MN
Mr. NORTON. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. I grew up in Abilene, KS, in the middle of the bread basket of this country and have worked in the flour milling industry for my entire 27-year career. I am currently employed by Bay State Milling Company, and we have flour mills in Winona, MN; Mooresville, NC; Tolleson, AZ; Clifton, NJ; Indiantown, Fl; Saginaw, TX; and Platteville, CO. Saginaw and Platteville are joint ventures with wheat farmers in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. In those seven mills, we grind more than 180,000 bushels daily to produce more than 8 million pounds of flour each day.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am here today to testify on behalf of the North American Millers' Association. We have 42 member companies, operate 172 wheat, corn, oat, and rye mills in 37 States. Our combined production if more than 160 million pounds of product daily, which is about 90 percent of the total U.S. capacity.
Why is methyl bromide used in the milling industry? Because it is highly effective for ensuring high-quality, wholesome food produced in a sanitary environment free of insects. It is typically used twice annually to fumigate the physical mill structure and the equipment it contains.
The FDA rules demand cleanliness. Our consumers expect it. Perhaps you will remember watching your mom or grandmother baking. She always sifted the flour. Do you know why? To remove bugs. There is a reason you don't sift flour any more at homein fact, it is hard to find a flour sifterbecause flour doesn't need sifting prior to using as there are no bugs in it. Methyl bromide helps us ensure that cleanliness.
Banning methyl bromide in the United States is not really about saving the environment. If it were, the United States would insist on it being banned everywhere at the same time, and that would be a reasonable debatefood production and food safety, on the one hand, versus environmental goals on the other. But banning it here but not worldwide only handicaps U.S. farmers and industry without any offsetting environmental gain. We don't think that makes any sense.
What would happen if we no longer had methyl bromide? Currently we accept a small amount of insects in the grain we buy due to the monumental task of detection within a huge supply stream. Our industry uses approximately 910 million bushels of grain a year. Without methyl bromide, we would increase our demand for insect-free grain and the responsibility and expense would be pushed back up the supply chain up to and including the farmer.
Northern European countries pat themselves on the back for their aggressive stance against methyl bromide, but they are not major agricultural competitorscompetitors who will use it until at least 2015.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As an industry, we have already reduced our usage of methyl bromide to 25 percent or less of the level approved by the EPA.
Let us talk about alternatives. I read a lot about the United Nations or an environmental group advocating this alternative or that alternative. Believe me, we are anxious to find one that works also, but an alternative is not truly an alternative if it is not technically feasible and commercially available.
USDA has spent approximately $100 million over the last 6 years investigating alternatives and really has no new products to show for it. In fact, for years the EPA has had a fast track policy for registering methyl bromide alternatives, yet none have been registered for our use.
The milling industry is experimenting widely with potential alternatives with mixed success. We have tried using high heat treatments, which have shown some promise in certain facilities. There are difficult technical problems which may eventually be overcome, but certainly not by January 1. Industry-wide experiments with heat treatments have shown that many mills do not have the structural integrity to make heat treatments feasible. Those mills are just not tight enough to facilitate raising and holding the temperature at levels high enough to provide good infestation control We must remember that the majority of our milling capacity was built in the first half of the 20th century and equipment and materials are susceptible to accelerated deterioration through exposure to high heat.
Those technical problems, however, are minor compared with the lost production resulting from the longer time necessary for a heat treatment. For example, the flour mill I am officed at produces about 2 million pounds of flour each day. The high heat treatment can require up to 4 days to complete versus 2 for methyl bromide fumigation. The 2 days production, 4 million pounds, of wheat not produced during that longer heat treatment is worth about $500,000. With two treatments per year, I assure you that $1 million in lost revenue each year is a major impact to our small company.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Who would bear those costs? Lower wheat prices to farmers? Higher food prices to consumers? For most companies, we could not pick up and move our facilities to Mexico.
Phosphine, which is an effective treatment for stored grain, is not a good selection for the mills. The fumigant is highly corrosive and seriously damages the many electrical contacts, motors, and programable controllers we use in our flour mills.
To summarize, if U.S. agriculture is going to be expected to make that kind of a sacrifice, then it seems there should be real scientific certainty about the need for this ban. We recommend that Congress commission a panel of science experts from outside of Government to review the state of the science and report back as quickly as possible. If the United States Government is going to force the small company that I work for to sacrifice millions of dollars of revenue annually, we would like to be certain it is necessary.
Absent that certainty, Congress should take action to delay any further reductions pending the development of alternatives. Where no alternatives exist, Congress should create exemptions for critical uses like sanitation of food processing facilities.
Thank you. This concludes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of the North American Millers' Association, we appreciate this opportunity. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Norton appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Taylor.
STATEMENT OF R. JAY TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, TAYLOR AND FULTON, INC., PALMETTO, FL
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Jay Taylor. I am president of Taylor and Fulton. We are an integrated growing and packing operation located on the eastern seaboard of the United States. We have farming operations in several locations in Florida, as well as Georgia and Virginia. Our company employs well over 1,000 people.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. It is not often that you can get a farmer to leave his crop to come to Washington. This issue is that important.
Methyl bromide is not the future of my business and I know that, but it is the present. There is no viable economic alternative available today and I can't bet the farm, literally bet the farm, on there being one tomorrow or the day after.
Will there be one? Yes. And I hope that day is soon. But it is not here yet.
My brother and I grow tomatoes, strawberries, and mixed vegetables in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. In fact, I came across the Chesapeake last night from our farms on the Eastern Shore. We are fourth generation farmers in Florida and have a fifth generation already involved. We hope to be able to continue to farm and grow the fruits and vegetables in this country that we need now and into the future.
My brother and I have had the unique opportunity to grow crops without the use of methyl bromide. We started a farming operation in the Dominican Republic and did not have the use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant. We only grew one crop in that country. Puerto Rico continues to grow winter vegetables on the very next island, and yet there is no exportation to the Dominican Republic today.
There is no better testimony to the importance of crop protection chemicals. Puerto Rico is a viable growing area with protection afforded by modern science and the Dominican is unable to compete without the availability of those very same protections.
I have said before and I must say again that the American people which each of you represent need to decide whether or not they want a safe and wholesome supply of food grown in this country. If they doand they certainly shouldthen they need to consider us, the American farmer, as partners in the future and work with us to develop the technologies that enable us to do the job that we have done so well in the past on into the future.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The technology is not there as of yet to eliminate this vital tool that we use, and we need the time to come up with a suitable replacement. That is all we ask.
The scientific panel that is here today certainly shows that the manpower and the resources are going into that task, and I would hope for more.
This committee needs to find a way to enact appropriate legislation to allow the agricultural community, both production and scientific, the time to come up with a viable alternative that we all know is out there.
Sometimes fruit and vegetable growers feel that their best interests are ignored inside the beltway by the very people that should be our advocates. The USDA and the Agriculture Committee too often must serve the greater good of the agricultural industry in America at the expense of our so-called ''specialty crops.'' This methyl bromide issue is one that all of agriculture can agree on, and so one that should get the full support of our Congress.
We have lost farmland to suburbia. We have lost workers to a booming economy. We have lost market share to foreign competition. Please, please don't take away prematurely the tools with which we provide the food that America eats.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Taylor appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Culbertson.
STATEMENT OF JAMES CULBERTSON, EXECUTIVE MANAGER, CALIFORNIA CHERRY EXPORT ASSOCIATION, LODI, CA
Mr. CULBERTSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Jim Culbertson. I am the executive manager of the California Cherry Export Association, representing the growers of California cherries.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As manager of the California Cherry Export Association, I have oversight and direct contact with the use of methyl bromide as a pre-shipment fumigant for cherries exported currently to Japan, Australia, and South Korea. These treatments are a requirement by the governments of these countries to satisfy quarantine concerns for those countries.
California cherry producers gained access to the Japanese market in 1987 with an agreement of a quarantine work plan requiring the post-harvest use of methyl bromide and fumigation chambers. This is true within the northwest also for cherry producers, my fellow cherry producers in the northwest.
In the following years, California has been extremely successful in the Japanese market, with total shipments from 1987 to this current season equaling 9,171,018 pound cartons of fruit into that market. The value of these sales, which represents annually 30 percent of our total production, figures to be, over that period of time, $321 million over that period.
Japan, like most countries, takes their quarantine requirement very seriously and would most likely close their border to California, Oregon, and Washington cherries without the use of methyl bromide.
I don't believe that economic gain is a justification for environmental tradeoff. I do believe that proper science and real environmental harm should rule the day.
In the case of the considerations for banning of methyl bromide, I feel long ago we lost sight of the forest for the trees. Ongoing research into the effects of methyl bromide on the ozone layer have continued over the years to move ever closer to an understanding that perhaps methyl bromide is present in the atmosphere in an equilibrium state with a constant concentration.
Well beyond the low percentage of contributions of agricultural methyl bromide use are sources of methyl bromide with much greater quantity. The unfortunate turn of events with the Los Alamos fire is a prime example of an extremely large release of methyl bromide as a known byproduct of a large-scale burning of biomass material, yet we continue to concentrate our regulatory efforts on a minute portion of the methyl bromide equation that carries with it a great loss for agriculture.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While methyl bromide has been placed in the position of public enemy No. 1 by the radical environmental community, we have lost sight of the fact that this may truly be a silver bullet compound. The environment of crop production is not a static world, but is in a constant state of evolution. Diseases and pests that affect the ability to produce crops have their own will to live and continue to mutate in order to maintain their longevity. The fact that we never achieved eradication of pests is evidence enough of the abilities of all forms of life to remain.
While chemicals come and go based on mutations and resistance designed into the natural order of nature, methyl bromide has remained as a silver bullet in the economic control of many pests and diseases, weathering the tide of pest evolution.
The mere fact that an effective alternative to methyl bromide has not been found speaks volumes about its role in today's modern agriculture.
We live in the age of a global economy. The cherry industry stands as a prime benefactor from the modern global trade. The global economy, when left unchecked, can have a serious and perhaps irreversible effect on production agriculture and the natural balance. Quarantine restrictions in most cases have been put in place for justifiable reasons. Global trade means the potential for rapid distribution of disease and pests if left unchecked. methyl bromide is a cornerstone material for the prevention and unwanted distribution of foreign pests and diseases to any country or port of call.
What are we thinking about when, during the time of record global shipments from all corners of the world, we would consider a ban of the best quarantine material science has to offer?
I have seen the regulatory failures of the past with knee-jerk reactions to non-concluded science. As a 12-year-old boy, I remember the recall of Gatorade, then a new sport beverage, over the issue of cyclamates. Bold headlines in the paper announced the need to ban this threat to society. However, there were no bold headlines on page 63, or wherever it appeared in the paper, when many years later it was determined that, lo and behold, the product is safe.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The sky is not falling and agricultural methyl bromide is not the cause of the ozone hole. Current national and international regulations have placed the producer of agricultural products in the United States at a competitive disadvantage. While we must work within the high-cost, high-standard-of-living economy that the United States enjoys, our ability to year in and year out compete in this global agricultural arena is based on our technology and advanced methods.
The unlevel playing field demonstrated by the application of methyl bromide regulation is a slap in the face to American agriculture. We are the world leaders in environmental control and agriculture due to our wise use of technology. We cannot allow our hands to be tied behind our backs and expect a fair global fight in the world of food and fiber production.
In closing, let me say that cherries, as well as many other specialty crops, depend heavily upon the materials to help maintain quality and economic future. We will be unable to say we have the safest food supply in the world if, in the future, our supplies are sourced overseas. Under that type of scenario, we will lose control and become dependent on foreign regulations to protect us as a society. This is counter to the efforts to drive public policy towards safer foods and it makes no sense for America. All we ask for is a policy based on sound science and a level playing field on which to compete in the global economy.
I thank you for this opportunity to be here today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Culbertson appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. I thank you very much.
I thank all the panel for their testimony.
I am going to start with Mr. Loop. One of the issues that we face in California, is without certain crop protection methods, tools for our growers to use, with the current regulatory environment that we are creating in this country, the threat of production of world market share moving out of the United States I believe is very real. I know that you are very familiar with what has happened to the tomato crop in Florida. That percentage of world production has been replaced by another country.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What do you think will happen with your State if you lose such an important tool as methyl bromide in terms of percentage of world market share producing these products?
Mr. LOOP. I think you are going to continue to see a strain on the producers. It is getting tougher all of the time because of all the regulations and the cost and losing these tools and the uncertainty of it. With Mexico increasing their production, being able to use a tool like methyl bromide, I think you will see production.
When you get into fruits and vegetables, they are so labor intensive and it is so difficult for us to compete with these other countries, and what I am afraid of, if we don't get some relief and we don't address some of these things, we are going to continue to drive production into other countries, and I think it would be a shame, not only just because of the production of food, but for all the other things that these farms bring.
If you want green spaces and wildlife habitat and water recharge areas and the quality of life, these farms out there have more to add to that and to the environment than any other group, and I just think that we need to do everything we can to make it feasible for these farms to stay in business and make a reasonable return, and the uncertainty of all of this is really wearing on our producers.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Driver, a question popped into my mind, both when you and Mr. Culbertson were testifying, about the requirement that certain products be fumigated before they are exported, that countries require that methyl bromide be used before they are exported into that country.
If we have a complete ban on methyl bromide or it becomes so expensive that you can't use it, what will happen to those markets that you are currently going into?
Mr. DRIVER. In developed markets such as Japan and developing markets such as Korea, if we ship product in there that has any amount of infestation whatsoever we will lose the market. Those countries are very concerned about coddling moth, and coddling moth is almost endemic to dried fruits and nuts, and there will have to be a relaxation of protocol from those nations, which is very unlikely.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So the threat, the danger of losing those markets is very real. And we must remember that geographically, if we lose those markets, China is much closer to them than we are.
Mr. POMBO. And China is building the largest methyl bromide plant in the world.
Mr. DRIVER. Well, China is building their capability of walnut production, and they are leaping forward to catch up with our technology very rapidly.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Culbertson, do you see the same kind of competition in terms of California cherries?
Mr. CULBERTSON. We are concerned about production of cherries that is going on in China, so that could be an alternative. One unique characteristic about cherries worldwide is a limited production cycle and timewise. The varietieswe don't produce cherries anywhere in the world year-round, but there are pockets of production. But our situation in exporting to those countries would certainly change overnight if we lost methyl bromide.
We are working with the Japanese Government currently towards other arrangements in looking at the pest equation to see if we can move beyond methyl bromide treatments with them, but negotiations and science and everything in that arena moves very slowly.
Mr. POMBO. I would like to ask both you and Mr. Driver a follow-up question. What would happen, if things proceeded as they appear to be right now, if you took your crop and, instead of exporting out of California, out of one of our ports, you shipped into, say, Mexico that has a longer-term phaseout and fumigated the product in Mexico and export it out of there? Would that be possible to do?
Mr. DRIVER. I cannot speculate on the efficacy, the legality, nor the economics of shipping to Mexico and then shipping from there. We are American producers, and we have built our markets from our shores, so, as far as trans-shipping through Mexico, I don't think it is a realistic option.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I might add, Congressman, that I think it begins much earlier than the arrival of the walnuts at the processing plant. It begins 12 years prior to that, because that is the return on investment cycle for people that plant walnut orchards. They can't afford to misfire.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Culbertson, do you have anything to add?
Mr. CULBERTSON. Yes, I do. If we are regulating ourselves as champions of the environment, then to trans-ship product into Mexico and fumigate it for shipment to Japan is by no means following along any trend to improve the environment.
In the case of cherries, they are highly perishable. Any delay in shipment and extended truck hauling and everything would deteriorate, obviously, the shelf life of the product.
It possibly is a viable alternative, but obviously it doesn't fit the criteria by which these regulations are being imposed.
Mr. POMBO. I realize it probably doesn't fit with the way things are being done right now, but I also realize you have to find a home for your crop.
Mr. CULBERTSON. It is very important to us. The California cherry industry, prior to receiving approval to go into Japan, both acreage and production-wise, was very static, and it has, through the exports worldwide, grown considerably.
If we had to depend upon our shores, alone, for the sales of our product, we would have diminished market prices.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to focus on the milling situation. Mr. Norton, you apparently use this twice a year in your plant, as I understand it. As I understand, they don't use this in, like, grain elevators where they store the grain prior to coming to your facility, so you take grain now that has some insect infestation because of the way you deal with that; is that correct?
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NORTON. Because of the enormity of the grain stream, we would expect that there will be insects in that grain stream. Depending on how long ahead of time that we receive the grain and the monitoring of that grain when it is received in our elevators would decide whether we would fumigate the grain in our elevator or not. Normally our grain stream moves through our facilities in less than 30 days, and as we bring that grain into our facility we just do not have the detection methods to assure that there are not one or two or three or four insects in that grain stream, and over a period of time we will see some infestation development in our facility. That is why we need the different variations of an integrated pesticide management program to address that development within the facility. Our consumers have high expectations of quality.
Mr. PETERSON. And most millers have the same situation that you do, I assume.
Mr. NORTON. Absolutely.
Mr. PETERSON. If you weren't able to use methyl bromide, what is going to be the impact on the farmers delivering this grain to you? Are they going to have to deliver to you insect-free grain or what
Mr. NORTON. That will, of course, be a higher expectation from the producers' standpoint to assure that our grain stream is free of insects.
Mr. PETERSON. How would they do that?
Mr. NORTON. At this point in time I do not know what alternatives they really have. One of their treatments that they use, chlorpyrifos, is also being taken off the market. So phostoxin is still an opportunity, but it is not really a matterfrom our standpoint, it is not really a matter of them being able to provide a completely insect-free stream because we would expect that we will have some pest development in our facilities, also.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. And, in terms of alternatives, have you tried to use any alternative to methyl bromide?
Mr. NORTON. Yes, we have experimented with high heat. We have experimented with CO2\. And we have looked at the opportunity to use phostoxin. High heat may have some potential for us in modern facilities that are designed for the expansion and contraction that high heat provides. Older facilities, such as our Winona plant and other plants that our industry has across the country, including up and down the Mississippi River, like Lake City and Hastings and Minneapolis, those facilities are not really designed to handle high heat exposure. It is going to be a real issue for those older facilities to be able to remain competitive in the future environment without methyl bromide.
Mr. PETERSON. The heat is the one that is the most promising of the alternatives?
Mr. NORTON. Yes. Phostoxin is so highly corrosive to electrical components that we have not really been able to use that in our facilities and we have become more and more reliant on programable controllers and the use of computerization within our factory environments.
Mr. PETERSON. And I suppose all that stuff costs more money than what you are doing now?
Mr. NORTON. Absolutely.
Mr. PETERSON. So the effect of this, I assume, will be that farmers will get less money for their products?
Mr. NORTON. I do not know how they can get less money for their products than they are getting today. [Laughter.]
Mr. PETERSON. We had a guy here yesterday that said that corn was going to be below $1 a bushel. I do not know if that is true or not, but that is what he said.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NORTON. Unfortunately this whole cost situation is going to have an impact on our agricultural economy.
Mr. PETERSON. Well, we appreciate your being here and your testimony.
Mr. NORTON. Thank you.
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Lucas.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Following along on Mr. Peterson's comments, Mr. Norton, coming from a wheat-producing area in western Oklahoma, could you comment for a momentyou and a number of your colleagues pointed out that the way methyl bromide will be handled in the United States will be different than Mexico. Could you describe what kind of an economic advantage or disadvantage that will place U.S. millers in versus, say, someone working on the other side of the Rio Grande if they can use it an you can't?
Mr. NORTON. Well, the impact in Mexico at this point in time, in our travels that we have had down into that country, is that their impact costs are already lower than ours. For instance, in our facility in Winona, Minnesota, for instance, we will employ totally around 70 hourly employees. The same facility in Mexico may employ 400 employees. We pay an average wage rate of $12 to $15 an hour. They may pay an average rate of $6 a day. You can see that they do not have the same pressures that we do to compete across the border.
For them to have the advantage on methyl bromide is a concern for us. We have facilities already in Texas and in Arizona, and we are seeing some interest in the Mexican market coming in the United States.
We are going to have the same pressures from our consumers to provide clean, safe product, and if they have the advantage of methyl bromide over us that is another advantage that they would have maybe to move into our marketplace.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. So then potentially with this proposal the insects might have a longer life expectancy than your industry in this country?
Mr. NORTON. Yes, it would.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Let me address then one kind of a broad, general question to the whole panel. Ultimately, the food and fiber we produce in this country is consumed, and we have consumers with the highest expectations in the world, as well they should. You can only send so much of the cost back down the stream on the producer side. Has there been any research, any analysis as to what the potential impact of this proposal will be on that other 97 percent of the public out there who is not directly connected to production, the consumer in this country, cost-wise? I throw this open to anyone on the panel who would care to comment.
Mr. TAYLOR. If I might, I am certainly not in the milling business, but it is so easywe have lost so much in the fruit and vegetable industry to foreign competition, specifically Mexico, post-NAFTA, that I do not think it would be a blip on the radar screen today for the American consumer in fruit and vegetables because it would immediately be taken up in additional acreage in Mexico or in Guatemala or wherever.
Now then that goes back to a very strategic question: do we want a safe and wholesome supply of foods from the United States? I mean, we have a very inelastic market now because of foreign competition. As our costs go up, our gross revenues do not match that rise in production costs, so it comes straight out of the farmer's pocket.
Does it go in fruit and vegetables? Does it go on and pass on to the American consumer? No. It goes on to a foreign competitor in increased market share.
Mr. LUCAS of Oklahoma. Thank you.
Thank you for this hearing, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Dooley.
Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Just an opening comment. First of all, I am a little disappointed we do not have anyone here from EPA or USDA who is in charge of interpreting some of the amendments that we made in the 1998 appropriations that are going to be implemented because I am a little bit at a loss here in terms of how do we transfer some of the information that is being provided today to those folks.
I guess what I am most interested in is implementation of the post-harvest and pre-shipment issues as it pertains to the use of methyl bromide. The intention of some of us when we were supporting the action of Congress in 1998 was to exempt those uses from the phaseout.
Mr. Driver, you mentioned in your testimony that there is currently a 21-day restriction?
Mr. DRIVER. No. I understand that the most recent relief was that if the product needed to be fumigated for shipment, that if it could be fumigated within 21 days of harvest then it could go through on that exemption. The realities of it are that that is only a fraction of what ultimately has to be protected.
Mr. DOOLEY. So what you are saying, in practical terms, if you store walnuts for a period of maybe a year.
Mr. DRIVER. Year round.
Mr. DOOLEY. You would only be able to use it for that 21 days after they were delivered?
Mr. DRIVER. Correct. And that only covers about 30 percent of the crop, the part of the crop that is handled like produce. The rest of it is handled like food manufacturing and its value goes down, just like grain value goes down if it becomes infested. And walnuts being high in oil, it is an attractant to a lot of insects, so we could seeand also, when you get insect infestation along with that it increases danger of rancidification. The walnut will go rancid if the pellicle is broken by the insect.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLEY. Have you been involved in any of the discussions with officials at EPA explaining this issue?
Mr. DRIVER. I have not, but I have been involved in the Methyl Bromide Alternatives Working Group, and I, too, will echo what many of my colleagues here on this panel have said. The alternatives that are toutedand there are about five methodologies that are always rolled outso far are highly impractical, such as in the industry. We grow walnuts. It is a 3-foot root system, and solarization, at best, is going to take care of the top 6 inches, so the alternatives really are theoretical rather than feasible.
Mr. DOOLEY. Again, on the fumigation for pre-shipment and post-harvest, we generally utilize fumigation chambers for that?
Mr. DRIVER. Yes. Diamond walnut growers in Stockton, which is the world's largest marketer of walnuts, has high-tech sealed fumigation chambers, and we also have other less-high-tech chambers, but, depending upon the market, I can't answer specifically because I am not involved in processing, I am a grower, but I understand that we have chambers that are the state-of-the-art.
Mr. DOOLEY. Does anyone on the panel know? I would assume if we have these chambers, what type of release do you get into the atmosphere of the methyl bromide?
Mr. CULBERTSON. In the California cherry industry we have 10 fumigation facilities, and we have a 100 percent release into the atmosphere. There have been numerous research projects done on scrubbers and various methods for removing the methyl bromide and storing it, but you really take the toxin from one location and create another toxin and you are left with either a charcoal compound or something with methyl bromide stored in it. It gets down to the basic science of whether this release is really harmful or not.
Mr. DOOLEY. Why can't we re-use it, if it is still toxic?
Mr. CULBERTSON. Well, one of the systems that was looked at was a storage and reuse, but the methyl bromide over time becomes contaminated over time with other compounds within the air and everything, and so italso, it became a regulatory issue on the situation of storage or recycling. The original label for the product by the manufacturer, Federal label, doesn't really apply to the recycled material because it does contain different compounds so you have changed the material.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If I may comment regarding the lack of presence of EPA and USDA, at least at this hearing, in our experienceI think it was 2 or 3 years ago we had an opportunity and sent one of our growers over to Vienna to attend the Montreal Protocol meetings there, and the gentleman that represented us, Al Vitali, is a champion for the cherry industry and has been a real leader in the fight to save methyl bromide. He was really not welcome even to talk to the U.S. delegation that was present at those meetings, and we have felt in the course of time regarding international policy on methyl bromide that it is really a back room policy and nothing is open for discussion. It has been a real difficult situation.
Mr. DOOLEY. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am working on a draft letter to the administration dealing with the specific issue of post-harvest and pre-shipment and reiterating what the intent of Congress was to exempt those, and I will hopefully be able to share that with you and get some suggestions for you and hopefully we can collectively do something along those lines.
Mr. POMBO. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Dooley, I would be happy to sign on to that letter.
It is interesting that before coming to this meeting this morning I was at another meeting and there was a gentleman there who appears regularly on a nightly or a weekly television program who has popularized the term ''Give me a break.'' Some of you may know who that is.
He started his remarks this morning by posing a rhetorical question. He said, ''Suppose I had a fuel that was cleaner burning than any other fuel we know of today and was actually cheaper, more powerful here in the United States. There's only one problemit is much more explosive than other fuels that we use and we knew in advance that it would kill 200 people a year. Would we permit that fuel to go on the market here in the United States?''
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We all sort of thought about that. Then he said, ''That fuel is natural gas, and we know that every year 200 people will be killed in natural gas explosions.''
He went on to sayand I could not say it any better, so I wrote it down. It is a direct quote. He said, ''Our bureaucratic regulators are creating a spider web of rules that are devouring our freedom.''
After listening to him and in listening to you, I do not know whether I am angry or frustrated. It should not require an act of Congress, it should not require letters from Members of Congress to a particular regulatory agency to expect a little bit of common sense.
I mean, when you think about us as Americans, our ancestors did not get on those ships, traverse the mountains and plains, deal with the droughts and pestilence because we were made of sugar candy. Patrick Henry did not say, ''Give me safety or give me death.'' I mean, somehow we as Americans have got to take back the common sense center, and we have gone so far in the regulatory agencies it is just outrageous.
I really do not have a question, because you guys have all said it so well. And I do not know what we do up here to demand that we demand that we get some common sense from our own Government. I mean, it shouldn't be that much to ask.
There are risks. We know that, for example, automobiles kill 50,000 people a year. Could they be approved by the EPA today?
We know that, for example, over 2,000 people will either be killed or injured by swimming pools every year. Are we going to stop allowing swimming pools to be built?
I mean, yes there are a certain amount of risks associated with whatever we dowith chemicals and whateverbut we have, as Americans, in the past been willing to take certain risks. That is why we got on those ships.
I have no questions. I am just sitting here getting more and more frustrated and angry that our own Government is doing this kind of thing to our own citizens, and at the end of the day we are Americans.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I thank you for coming.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Etheridge.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the panel also for their insightful testimony.
You have made it clear that many aspects of American agriculture will suffer if methyl bromide is not being used, so let me focus on something a little different, research as an alternative, if I may.
It is my understanding, from reading some of the testimony and listening to the comments this morning, that about 87 percent of the total agriculture use of methyl bromide is for soil fumigation to protect crops in a variety of ways from weed seeds, insects, et cetera, and about another 8 percent are used at the harvest to prevent pests from infestation, et cetera, and about 5 percent are used for warehouses, silos, et cetera, for storage and even in vehicle transportation.
In listening to your testimony this morning, you have given a number of proposed alternatives to methyl bromide are deficient for one reason or another, and you have also said that one method may be effective for one purpose or one crop but may not be sufficient for another, or, at worst, it may have an adverse effect, from some of the testimony.
Mr. Norton, I believe you said in your testimony that USDA has spent more than $100 million in the search for a cost-effective replacement for methyl bromide. Now, this question might be better posed to the next panel, but I am going to ask this one of you anyway because I think it is one that deserves being asked.
Does anyone on this panel know how much USDA has been focused on finding a true chemical substitute for methyl bromide that can do everything that methyl bromide can now do as opposed to finding a number of separate solutions rather than finding one, which we now use from methyl bromide? Do you understand the question? Who would like to start? I hope each one of you would comment.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DRIVER. I am glad you asked that question.
Dr. Mike McHenry at University of California, a researcher that does a lot of work with methyl bromide alternatives, thought he had the silver bullet and he thought it was methyl iodide. Unfortunately, methyl iodide is phytotoxic to premise species, meaning peaches, plums, those species of nursery stock. So what looked very promising on a pre-plant basis ended up being a killer.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Congressman, from my perspective, being the low man on the totem pole gets muddy. In the field, most of the alternatives that I have been usingand there have been numerousgrow beautiful weeds, and with increase in cost I just do not see how I can continue farming from the aspect of most of these alternatives we know are going to produce beautiful weeds. Some I even had to go to the ID book, the weed book, to find out what they were because I hadn't seen them in a long time.
But the unknown factors, what the scientists are going to talk about are the potential soil diseases that we have not had to fight off or fend off. I know for a fact that in southern California there has been a farmer who has been farming berries in the last 3 years without the use of methyl bromide, and I guess you are going to hear from the scientists what effects he has been having, and his losses are greater than 50 percent. In fact, he can't go back and farm that land right now without methyl bromide.
It is going to be a devastating cost to me as a farmer and all my peers in the agricultural farming community.
Mr. TAYLOR. If I might, I think you have hit upon one of the most perplexing problems associated with this whole issuethat there is no panacea out there to replace methyl bromide, and that drives the research costs sky high, astronomic, because you are not looking for one product, you are looking for a myriad of products to serve a myriad of uses, and that is where the cost is driven from.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And that is not only the cost, but the time, the time element that we are dealing with and why it has taken so long to come up with an alternative.
I think you are right on. I think you are going to hear that from the scientific community.
Mr. CULBERTSON. Congressman, I want to describe a little bit of the unique characteristics of methyl bromide that make it what I consider a very silver bullet compound.
When we do commodity fumigations of cherries or other products, we are talking about not only pests on the outside of the fruit but we are talking about internal feeders, pests that will be inside the fruit.
Methyl bromide, not only in that application but also in termite control in houses, is used because of its small molecular size and its ability to penetrate.
So in the case of cherries, when we do fumigation treatments, methyl bromide is actually entering the fruit and continues to go to the very pit of the fruit and inside the pit of the fruit, so the insect, wherever it is in the fruit, is killed by the methyl bromide. Then it also has the unique characteristic of off-gassing and removing itself from the fruit.
The penetrating characteristics and the method by which methyl bromide works and also being odorless and tasteless, so it doesn't have a taste effect on a fresh fruit commodity like ours, makes it a very unique compound, and to find something that fits that type of arena is a difficult challenge, and obviously it hasn't happened. I am not sure it ever will.
Mr. NORTON. The milling industry has not found anything that is the silver bullet like methyl bromide is, either. If we are going to accomplish what we are doing without it, we are going to have to change our facilities and use a combination of different types of chemicals or alternatives to do it.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I see my time has expired.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. Mr. Miller?
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you again for allowing me to participate in this hearing.
Let me ask a question of Mr. Taylor. In our area of Florida I know you have to use methyl bromide, but you grow in another State. Do you use it in your other States?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, we do.
Mr. MILLER. Is it just as critical on the Eastern Shore as it is in Florida?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes. Absolutely. In fact, being on the Eastern Shore is very unique in thatwell, you all live part of the year here in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as well, and you know how pristine and critical a piece of water that is to our country, and to try to farm in that watershed is difficult, at best.
We have got a trial right now right across the bay that is using one of the alternatives that is being bantered around by Government agencies as the next step, and it is the pretties crop of morning glories you could ever see. I mean, it really is. I know there are some tomatoes in there some place, but we haven't found them yet. [Laughter.]
Mr. MILLER. You also grew in the Dominican Republic, and I am sureI do not know if it was your father or grandfather or great-grandfather who grew without methyl bromide. I mean, tomatoes were grown without methyl bromide.
Mr. TAYLOR. Tomatoes were grown without methyl bromide, and at that time the pressure on land use was not what it is today and there was always new land. I mean, even as close as my father was able to farm a piece of land on the west coast of Florida for 2 years and then move on to a new piece of land, never to farm that land again. I mean, that is how plentiful it was that short a time ago.
Of course, that is not the case today. I mean, we are under pressures on farmland. Farmland isn't something thata piece of land that is not good for anything else. I mean, it is there. We grow tomatoes. We grow walnuts. We grow whatever they grow where they are grown because of climate, because of water, because of resources.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MILLER. Why wouldn't you be able to use that land again for another year or so?
Mr. TAYLOR. What we had then was an abundant supply of land where we could go, we could farm it for 2 years, then we would leave it and it would go to pasture, so the disease pressures never built up to a level where you had to fumigate the soil to continue to farm it.
We do not have that luxury today because of the pressure on our unique farmlands in America, so we have to use soil fumigants because we do not have the luxury of moving on to a new piece of ground every couple of years when the pressures from disease and pests get to a point where it is damaging your crop.
Mr. MILLER. You have experimented over on the Eastern Shore with other alternatives, and I have seen it at the Agriculture Center at the research facility there right in there trying some. What else have you tried? Is anything coming close to being used?
Mr. TAYLOR. Solarization is something. Again, that ties up a huge amount of land for a long period of time. There is ongoing research in the biotech field in looking for answers from the breeding standpoint. There have been many diseases and many pests, in fact, that have been able to be controlled through the natural breeding and cross-pollination, so there's not just a chemical answer.
Mr. MILLER. You have tried and experimented with other alternatives?
Mr. TAYLOR. We have tried and we are continuing to try. It is an ongoing process. But, just like your colleague said over here, it is not going to be one product that suits everyone from this point forward. It is going to be special products. And when you get to such a small marketplace as fruit and vegetable growers on the eastern seaboard, how do you go to Dow Chemical Company and say, ''Invest the money in the research and development, invest the money in the labeling, invest the money in the EPA registration.'' All of that has to be economically viable for those people to come up with the answers, as well, and that is very difficult.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Moran?
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I am not a member of this distinguished subcommittee, but I am delighted to be here. I really came to listen to these gentlemen. I am glad I did get here in time for Mr. Gutknecht's oratory. It was outstanding and on point.
This I know is an issue, and I have participated in hearings in our other Agriculture Committee subcommittee several years ago, and I came to get an update on what has happened since. I know the importance of this issue to the milling industry in Kansas and the storage folks, but I wanted to hear what these folks had to say.
I have no questions. I will wait and see what the next panel has to say.
I wish you well. We are here to help you champion your cause. Thank you very much.
Mr. POMBO. We'd love to have you as a member of this subcommittee, Mr. Moran. I know you are already serving on several. Thank you for being here.
I want to thank this panel for your testimony and for taking your time away from your businesses and families to be here. I know it is difficult to make the trek across country for many of you, and I appreciate your taking the time to come in and share a little bit of your experience with us, so thank you very much and I excuse the panel.
I would like to call up our second panel. We have Ms. Jane Carpenter, Dr. John Duniway, Dr. Joseph Noling, and Dr. Scott Enebak.
I would like to thank this panel for joining us this morning. We may be expecting a vote here shortly on the floor, but we are going to try to hear the testimony from this panel before that happens.
Ms. Carpenter, if you are ready, you can begin.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF JANET E. CARPENTER, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, NATIONAL CENTER FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL POLICY, WASHINGTON, DC.
Ms. CARPENTER. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, good morning. My name is Janet Carpenter. I am a research associate at the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, a private, nonprofit, non-advocacy research organization located in Washington, DC.
The National Center has analyzed the impact that a phaseout of methyl bromide would have on U.S. agricultural producers and consumers. This work was funded by USDA's Economic Research Service.
Much of what I have to say this morning reiterates what you have already heard from the first panel. Our challenge in our study was to take a national perspective and understand the issues that face all of the user groups of methyl bromide.
Methyl bromide has been widely used for agricultural pest control in the United States since the 1960's. The adoption of cropping systems including methyl bromide has resulted in dramatically increased yields for crops such as strawberries and tomatoes. Methyl bromide is also used for post-harvest treatment on commodities such as walnuts and raisins.
We estimated the overall annual impact of nearly $500 million. Nearly all of this impact is for pre-plant uses and is based on our finding that growers will experience higher costs and lower yields.
Since the phaseout was announced in 1994, USDA has pursued a significant research program to find alternatives to methyl bromide. Alternatives research has also been funded by EPA, State governments, and commodity groups.
We identify the alternatives that growers are likely to choose when methyl bromide is no longer available and estimated yield and cost changes that growers would experience using those alternatives. We reviewed the literature on research into alternatives. We held two workshops, one in Florida and one in California, gathering university scientists, USDA researchers, growers, environmentalists, and Government officials who reviewed our summaries of available research results and provided additional information on cost and yield differences and the constraints on the use of alternatives.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our review showed that the bulk of research had been conducted to identify alternatives for a few cropsCalifornia strawberries, Florida tomatoes, perennial crops, and post-harvest uses. As the largest users of methyl bromide, the focus on these crops may have been justified. Further, much of this research will be informative in the search for alternatives for other uses. For example, the most effective alternative for Florida tomatoes is also expected to be used for peppers and eggplants.
We considered both chemical and non-chemical alternatives. For all pre-plant uses, we found that there is no single alternative available and that the most effective alternative was a combination of chemical pesticides. No alternatives were found to perform as well as methyl bromide. All of the available alternatives resulted in lower yields and/or higher costs.
Of the $500 million annual impact, the largest pre-plant impacts are estimated to occur in markets for tomatoes, strawberries, almonds, and grapes. For post-harvest uses, prunes, walnuts, grapefruit, and raisins experienced the largest losses. For annual crops, losses for consumers were found to outweigh decreased revenues to producers. Consumer losses of $160 million are caused by higher prices and reduced supply.
Mexico is a major competitor in the winter fresh vegetable market, and they are expected to gain following the ban. Increased imports from Mexico will cause losses to U.S. producers, but also decrease losses to U.S. consumers by moderating supply reductions and price increases.
U.S. production areas that do not rely on methyl bromide will likely gain after the phaseout. Other regions may find crop prices increase sufficiently to cover increased production costs.
Our study is based on currently-available registered alternatives and the current state of knowledge about the efficacy and constraints of alternatives. Continued research may identify more effective alternatives than those assumed in the current study. Regulatory decisions which will change the options available to growers are certain to occur before the 2005 phaseout. These changes may alter the likely economic impact of the actual ban on methyl bromide. Indeed, our estimates of the impact of the methyl bromide phaseout are significantly smaller than those estimated in previous studies due to better understanding of the performance and availability of alternatives.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As the phaseout of methyl bromide proceeds, the need for effective and affordable alternatives becomes more urgent. Continued research and development of alternatives to methyl bromide may alleviate the impact of the phaseout. The results of our study may be used to direct research into areas where losses are expected to be highest or to areas where little research has been conducted to date.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Carpenter appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Dr. Duniway.
STATEMENT OF JOHN DUNIWAY, PROFESSOR OF PLANT PATHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS, DAVIS, CA
Mr. DUNIWAY. Thank you. I am pleased to have the chance to be here, Mr. Chairman and committee members.
I am a plant pathologist on the faculty of the University of California at Davis. I have about 30 years, maybe more, experience with soil-borne pathogens of plants and about 7 years of research experience on alternatives to soil fumigation with methyl bromide for strawberry production in California.
I want to update you on what I think the status of the research and the situation with alternatives is for treating soil for producing high-value horticultural crops like strawberries.
We are simply not ready to meet the current scheduled reductions in methyl bromide availability and the full phaseout as it is scheduled at this time. There has been a lot of research in alternatives. There are some with some potential, but they have limitations and/or lack of availability and are not ready to go at this time. I think both the research community and the industries affected need more time.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A couple comments about how methyl bromide is used in strawberry production. It is used in an annual basis on about 90 percent of the acreage in California. On average, it approximately doubles yield. Perhaps more important, it controls some very important diseases for which the pathogens are resident in the soil; without treatment there will be high risks and high variability in production and losses for individual growers.
Soil fumigation with methyl bromide is the main method of weed control in strawberry production, and it is part of a highly-integrated, high-input, high-value production system that actually makes use of the best technologies available in terms of IPM management of pests and diseases, but the system does rely on pre-plant fumigation of soil with methyl bromide.
The scheduled reductions that are coming up next year, 2001, 50 percent reduction, and in 2003, 70 percent reduction, will make methyl bromide very much less available, and by 2003 probably not available for general use in strawberry production, so the clock is running out on us very fast.
The existing alternatives, although we have had a large amount of research, a lot of progress has been made, and a lot of things are happening, we are not there with a replacement that works with a consistency to reproduce effects and cost-effectiveness of methyl bromide. We can come back to limitations of specific alternatives if you would like. That is a very complex and large topic.
I also want to note that a complete ban after the year 2005 will do further damage, that is to the strawberry nursery production of runner plants for transplanting into berry fields for production of strawberries. The plants that are used in this way, the runner plants that are increased and then finally put out into fields for production, are grown in soils treated with methyl bromide to eliminate important pathogens and pests in that soil. Nursery plant material has to be of high quality and free of certain pathogens to meet the phytosanitary requirements for movement within the State of California and for export out of the country.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our nursery industry exports about 40 percent of its runner plant production to the EU, Chile, Argentina, and other places which have strict quarantine requirements.
I would argue that we need a critical use exemption for the pre-plant treatment of soil with methyl bromide for the production of pathogen-free, quality planting, propagating materials, in certain nursery situations, and that this critical use of methyl bromide is needed beyond the year 2005.
The replacements that people are working on and trying to develop for the nursery side of this situation i.e. chemicals that have the kind of level of activity that we see with methyl bromide, are several to many years off in terms of being available and registered as pesticides.
I would also like to note that the Montreal Protocol process has made many unrealistic assumptions about the availability and suitability to alternatives to methyl bromide. We can come back to those questions if you would like, but they have been very overly-optimistic about the usefulness of various alternative approaches and have made many simplified assumptions about how disease control measures that work in one place are fully transportable to other systems and locations, things that work in part in one place will work well in another, et cetera.
So my conclusion that I want to leave with you today as a researcher is, one, we need more time. We are simply not ready to help growers cope with the withdrawal of methyl bromide by the current schedule.
Two, there are critical uses that go beyond those now exempted for quarantine by the Montreal Protocol, particularly for the production of propagating plant material, where pre-plant treatment of soil with methyl bromide is a major factor in producing pathogen-free material which then goes out into fields and reduces subsequent pesticide use and helps prevent spread of pests and diseases around widely, et cetera. Thank you.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Duniway appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Dr. Noling.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH W. NOLING, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF NEMATOLOGY, CITRUS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER, LAKE ALFRED, FL
Mr. NOLING. Good morning to you, Mr. Chairman, and to other members of the subcommittee here.
Let me begin by telling you I am a research and extension nematologist with the University of Florida. I have been in this position for 15 years. I have served as a member of the United Nations' Environmental Program, and I have also served for the past 5 years as a coordinator of alternatives to methyl bromide research for the State of Florida. I am familiar with what the alternatives are and the performance of these alternatives, at least with respect to Florida, in itself.
I will tell you that in the first 5 years of my career it was invested in management strategies for nematodes in crops other than those that are currently dependent upon methyl bromide. If I had done otherwise, my job would have been likened to that of a Maytag repairman whose phone never rings. Methyl bromide does not leave nematode problems in the field.
In 1991, when methyl bromide was detected in the upper stratosphere, it was at that time that research programs, not just in my laboratory but in those in others around the State, were initiated as to begin evaluation of alternative strategies to replace methyl bromide.
The first step was one of a quick fix in which the objective was to characterize an alternative chemical that could actually replace or substitute for that of methyl bromide. These studies were performed at many different locations with standardized protocols, in fields hopefully that had high pest pressures.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The discovery we made after 3 years of continuous research was that there was not going to be one chemical that would substitute for that of methyl bromide, and, in fact, some type of cocktail approach, one that would couple one particular fumigant, for example, that had very good activity against one particular pest group would have to be coupled with another. In fact, as it turned out, it had to be then coupled with a complementary herbicide because the alternative fumigants that would replace methyl bromide didn't have the weed control activity that was possessed by that of methyl bromide.
So, given that, it was at that time that a product called 1,3 dichloropropene coupled with chloropicrin, another fumigant gas, coupled with a herbicide was identified as what, in Florida, constitutes our next best alternative approach. What we have attempted to do over the last 4 years now is to take this to the actual growers community and do some relatively large-scale field testing.
Most of the results from the in-row types of treatments that we have evaluated have been very encouraging. There are, however, some very discouraging attributes about the use of these particular products. All of them, themselves, have regulatory uncertainties of whether they will be available in the future. They have some labeling constraints which, in themselves, are going to be very restrictive, and in some cases, as that of the strawberry industry, will ultimately not constitute them as an alternative. I would like to elaborate for a moment on that if I can.
In an attempt to escape the personal protective equipment requirements for the use of this 1,3D telone chloropicrin herbicide formulation, we have now explored broadcast equivalent type treatments, themselves.
Well, the application of these compounds requires that every worker in the field don rubber boots, rubber gloves, coveralls, and a full face respirator, which is very heat restrictive, to say the least, in the fall months in the state of Florida, as well as every other month of the year, as well. It comes with additional cost.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And if you look carefully at EPA recommendations for heat stress avoidance in workers by employers, themselves, it places the burden of responsibility on the growers. Other agencies within our Government also recommend, and in some cases, mandate that workers can only work 20 minutes of every hour wearing these special suits, themselves, which automatically should indicate to you that labor requirements for the use of these new next-best alternatives could, in fact, double or at least triple. The additional labor costs are not incorporated within the economic models that we continue to see and use and cite the statistics from.
The broadcast treatments, themselves, have not produced as encouraging results as that of the in-row treatment, but there are other considerations even in the use of this product under these types of application regimes broadcast.
The use of this next-best alternative requires that it cannot be applied within 300 feet of any occupied structure. Well, in the Florida strawberry industry this would preclude the use of this next alternative on any of the strawberry-producing acreage within Florida, which, in itself, constitutes a $110 million loss.
The recommendation to move production to lands which are not prohibited by the proximity of occupied dwellings is not possible. It was already discussed to some extent earlier, and I am prepared to discuss it even further.
I also want to conclude that we have not focused exclusively on chemicals but have thoroughly and comprehensively looked at many, many different nonchemical alternatives, and all of them have major shortcomings of one form or another.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Noling appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Dr. Enebak.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT A. ENEBAK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE SCIENCE, AUBURN UNIVERSITY, AUBURN, AL
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ENEBAK. Good morning. My name is Scott Enebak. I am an associate professor at Auburn University. I want to thank the committee for the invitation to come and speak about my research in forestry nurseries as it relates to methyl bromide.
I have spent a good portion of my research career trying to identify a biological alternative to methyl bromide. This research has taken me to nurseries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. Some of my earlier biocontrol research included the use of two beneficial fungi in a nursery in Wisconsin. I might add this is one my more spectacular biological control failures. After the first growing season, the only place where seedlings were present were within the plots that had received either methyl bromide or chloropicrin, and I placed an image of this in my written testimony for you to look at.
While the failure of these two fungi was disappointing, as far as the treatment was concerned, what is more unfortunate is this failure could not be published as it is difficult to get such failures reported in refereed journals.
I might add that research in the biocontrol arena lends itself to many unpublishable data sets, thus it is not that the research is not getting done, it is more likely the treatments are not working and not getting reported.
The School of Forestry at Auburn University serves as the home for the Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative. This cooperative consists of 25 industrial, private, and State members that operate 53 forest nurseries from Virginia to Texas. Collectively, they produce 1.1 billion seedlings per year for reforestation. This is 70 percent of the Nation's seedling production.
Consequently, a safe and cost-effective alternative to methyl bromide has been the cooperative's number one priority for years.
The research at our cooperative has taken two approaches, the biological and the chemical. I have been the biological. I have been testing the best, most promising 12 biocontrol elements on the three major pine species. These biocontrol agents are naturally-occurring bacteria that aggressively colonize plant roots. I have tested them in greenhouses, in fields. I have tested different potting media, different soil types. I have done 1-, 2-, and 3-year trials. I have used them with and without fumigation on loblolly, slash, and long-leaf pine.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These are basically my results in a nutshell. I have got six points here. Bear with me.
Some of these strains literally stunt the growth of pine seedlings and they become smaller. Some of these strains will increase pine seedling growth. Depending upon the strain I used, as I increase the amount I can either increase or decrease the growth. Depending upon the strain I use, I can decrease the amount of a beneficial mycorrhizae that naturally occurs on seedling roots. The soil pH of the nursery determines whether or not these strains will increase or decrease their growth.
These effects, these increases and decreases in growth, is bacterial and nursery dependent. What may work in one nursery doesn't work in the other. It may work on one end of the riser, it may not work on the other.
If these six points are confusing or ambiguous, it is because the use of biocontrol agents is confusing and ambiguous. Some of the above points are published, some are not. I have many more studies that are not published than I do published. I have file cabinets full of stuff that doesn't work.
Because of the tree species, the variety, the nursery soil interactions, fine-tuning a specific biocontrol agent for a specific nursery would take years, if not impossible. These bacteria are not the answer as a biological alternative to methyl bromide. I cannot offer any agent to nurseries in replacement of methyl bromide. Even if I had one in my back pocket today, it would take years to get licensed for use, so then even that is questionable if it would be labeled for use.
As mentioned earlier, there was a two-pronged approach at looking at alternatives. Other scientists at Auburn believed that they had come up with a cost-effective and safe alternative.
In November 1999 two nurseries applied the treatment on a production scale. The chemical permeated from the soil and damaged a half a million seedlings in Mississippi and 21 million seedlings in Texas.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thus, after looking for years, we have yet to identify a safe and cost-effective chemical or biological replacement for methyl bromide.
What does this mean to the nursery producer and the landowner in the southeastern United States? It is my opinion that some nurseries will close as they will be unable to produce an acceptable seedling for reforestation.
Data and the literature suggest 50 percent reduction in seedlings without the use of methyl bromide.
The first to close would probably be the State nurseries, as they will be unable to compete with the industrial grower. The reduced seedling capacity will increase the cost of available seedings and probably result in less landowners planting.
It is my opinion that more herbicides, more insecticides, and more fungicides will be applied in an attempt to get the same level of pest management that nurseries currently get with methyl bromide today.
Finally, my job, as someone who tries to manage diseases, is going to get much more difficult and much more interesting in the next few years.
With that, I thank you for your time and attention and will answer any questions the committee may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Enebak appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. I thank the entire panel for their testimony.
As you heard, we have a few votes over on the floor. I believe there are three votes. I am going to recess the committee, and it is going to be about 20 to 25 minutes in order for us to get back. Hopefully none of you has any time constraints in terms of needing to catch an airplane or something, but we should be back shortly. We will take a temporary recess for the committee and we will return and hopefully get some time for some questions. Thank you.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Mr. POMBO. I would like to call the hearing back to order. I apologize to our witnesses for the delay. It took a little longer than I anticipated, but we are back.
To start off with, I had a question on whether or not any of you had examined the environmental impacts of a phaseout of methyl bromide and what the possible impact would be. I know we heard from the first panel and from you that the alternative to using methyl bromide is a cocktail, is a number of different pesticides and chemicals, herbicides that would be used as an alternative to that. Has anybody done any studies on what the environmental impact would be of going from methyl bromide to that?
Mr. DUNIWAY. Not specifically at the level that you are asking, but there are surely consequences in that methyl bromide is the devil you know versus some of the other replacement compounds are the devil you do not know so far as environmental consequences and fates go.
So the alternative fumigants or chemicals that might be used in the near future all have limited registration or are approaching registration, and they all have environmental consequences that are being investigated at this time.
And then, because they are also less effective, there will be use of other kinds of pesticides, such as additional herbicides and in some cases fungicides, than we see used now, but I can't put a quantitative answer to your question.
Mr. POMBO. Well, that is, I think, something that probably should have been studied before we find ourself in the position we are in. If we were to start that kind of a study right now, I am sure it would take several years to come up with some reasonable answer to that. I was just curious as to whether or not anybody had done that at this point.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. Carpenter, in your testimony you talk about a loss to consumers. I would like to explore that a little bit more with you.
I understand your premise that the prices would increase as a result of this, but if we are competing in an international market and the United States market being part of the international market, it appears to me that, because other countries would not be playing by the same rules that we are, that their cost of production would remain relatively constant and ours would increase dramatically, and if that be the case, we would not necessarily see a rise in price to the consumer as much as we would see a loss of market share on the U.S. side by the U.S. producers.
Did you look at that aspect of it at all?
Ms. CARPENTER. We found that both of those impacts do occur. The way our models works is that we look at the cost of production for U.S. growers, and we also included Mexican growers, because that is where the major competition is coming from. And yes, they have lower costs, and then when our costs increase they do have a competitive advantage and they expand acreage, so that is taken into account.
As I mentioned in my testimony, that moderates the impact on consumers, but consumer losses still are higher than producer losses for the annual crops where we made that calculation.
Also, one of the implications of your question is the difference in the phaseout schedules for the developing countries versus the United States, and it should be noted that it is not just that Mexico has more time to use methyl bromide, because they do not rely on it nearly to the extent of U.S. growers, so they are at an advantage because they have lower costs of production. Some of the acreage is being treated with methyl bromide and will continue to be. Some people believe that use of methyl bromide is expanding in Mexico, but it is just not to the extent that we are reliant on it here.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. It is my understanding on that point that it is expanding, that they have ramped up considerably their use and will continue to do so between now and 2002, because that becomes their baseline, is my understanding of it.
The manufacture of methyl bromide has increased dramatically in the countries that have a longer phaseout because they will be playing under a completely different set of rules than we are, and, as a result of that, I think that we will end up at a huge economic disadvantage when it comes to going after that international market.
Ms. CARPENTER. I do not have figures specifically on methyl bromide use in Mexico, so I can't really address that issue.
Mr. POMBO. Well, I do not know if anybody has accurate figures. I have seen figures, but I do not know how accurate they are.
Ms. CARPENTER. There is also another point I would like to make, and that is related to the amount of methyl bromide that is used in Mexico. Part of the reason they do not use it to the extent that we do is because of the soil type in their soil production areas, and they just do not have the pest pressure that we do in ours. That is another factor that needs to be taken into account.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Ms. CARPENTER. Yes.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Peterson.
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think you maybe just answered my question. This is not something I am familiar with where I am from, but that is the main reason they do not use it is because of the different soil types?
Ms. CARPENTER. It is also a very expensive technology, and, to the extent that they can substitute labor or other inputs for something like methyl bromide, they are more able to do that than U.S. growers because labor is cheaper.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. Does Canada allow methyl bromide? Does anybody know the answer to that?
Ms. CARPENTER. I do not know.
Mr. NOLING. Well, up until recently it was my understanding that some of the nursery operations in Ontario and Nova Scotia were continuing to use methyl bromide, but they were finding it actually more profitable to sell their quotas of methyl bromide to other industries on the structural side where they could use it, and then rely on some of the other chemical alternatives is the direction in which they actually went.
It is my understanding that it is available, it is used. The extent to which it is used, though, is diminishing over time.
Mr. PETERSON. But the Canadian Government has not banned it?
Mr. NOLING. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. DUNIWAY. I have a comment about Canada. Quebec and some other parts of Canada produce strawberry runner plants in nurseries, and in recent years the quality of that material has deteriorated quite significantly, and we have introductions of material into California that, if really tested, would not meet current quarantines.
Mr. PETERSON. Why has the quality gone down?
Mr. DUNIWAY. Well, the Canadian producers are trying to use less methyl bromide and are using some other fumigants in some situations, and the material that they are producing is of lesser quality.
Mr. PETERSON. Why are they trying to use less if the government is not forcing them to?
Mr. DUNIWAY. I do not know the government policy in Canada, so I can't answer that part of the question.
Mr. PETERSON. So nobody really knows what the Canadian Government is doing for sure.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNIWAY. I am sure it is known some place quite definitely, but I do not know.
Mr. POMBO. I believe, if the gentleman would yield for a minute, that Canada is on the same schedule we are. I believe that they are considered a developed country and are on the same phaseout schedule we are, so that would impact the decisions that are being made there.
Mr. DUNIWAY. That is likely, but some countries, like the EU, have gone ahead and made reductions ahead of the Montreal Protocol schedule, and whether Canada has done that or not, I do not know.
Mr. ENEBAK. With regard to forestry nurseries, most of Canada's production are in containers, and they do need to use methyl bromide as a pre-plant soil treatment. For them it is not as critical.
Mr. PETERSON. The northern Europeans are ahead of us. Why is that?
Mr. DUNIWAY. Well, the northern Europeans, particularly the Dutch, have taken a lead in trying to reduce methyl bromide fumigation, generally.
The thing you have to remember is that Europe, with the possible exception of parts of Spain, does not have the large-scale horticultural production systems of high value that we have here in the United States. They are not users of methyl bromide on the scale with profitable returns that we are in the United States. So comparisons to Holland, to Canada, to some other places in terms of what happens in Florida or California, you are talking enormous, huge, perhaps hundred-fold differences in scale.
Mr. PETERSON. But we had this guy from the millers hereI do not know if he is still herebut they mill flour in Canada and northern Europe, and his testimony was that this is going to cause them problems and cause our producers to get less money, so would not that be the same situation then in Canada and northern Europe? I mean, what are they doing? If we can't do it, why can they do it? That is my question, I guess.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNIWAY. I do not know the answer on the milling grain side of that. In the soil use of fumigants, it is just that most other countries have smaller-scale kind of production systems.
Mr. PETERSON. I know this really shows my ignorance about this, but what is it about methyl bromide that is so bad that we are getting rid of it? I have no idea what it is that we are trying to solve here. What does it do to the environment or to people that we need to get rid of it?
Mr. DUNIWAY. The current issue, as I understand itand people here probably know moreis that it is a stratospheric ozone depleting compound and does that catalytically when it gets there, so a little bit of methyl bromide getting to high elevations in the stratosphere, damages the ozone.
The thing that is of bigger debate is what part of the methyl bromide equation in the atmosphere comes from manmade sources versus natural sources and then what part of that is from agricultural use. Those estimates vary a lot. It is probably a minor part that actually comes from agriculture that is regulated.
I am not an atmospheric scientist. That is the knowledge that I have.
Mr. PETERSON. This is not a situation where it is a threat to humans' health directly?
Mr. DUNIWAY. We have been using methyl bromide very effectively in California for about 40 years on quite a large scale, and, like other pesticides, things can happen and go wrong, but at the same time the use record on methyl bromide is actually quite good. That is one of the advantages of it over the alternativeswe know methyl bromide. We know how to work with it. Applicators know how to use it and safety precautions are quite good, et cetera.
Mr. NOLING. In most cases the only time a problem is ever encountered is when somebody illegally enters a building that is undergoing structural fumigation for a television or something and doesn't come back out of the building.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the Netherlands, for example, some of the problems they have had occur in the greenhouse, the glass house industries there. Once again, it is a containment problem where people are entering buildings where concentrations of methyl bromide are unhealthful.
But as far as soil fumigation uses go, it is very few and far and in between where problems arising from the application process of a material occur.
Mr. PETERSON. I do not want to drag this out too much, but it has not been proven to cause cancer or anything like that?
Mr. NOLING. It is under speculation right now as a carcinogen. It has not been proved, to my knowledge, but most things are, I guess.
Mr. PETERSON. So some of these environmentalists are thinking that this is damaging the ozone; what's driving this, and
Mr. NOLING. It is not just the ozone, but it is an increased incidence of cataracts and everything else that come as a result of the shrinking nature of the ozone layer that can have impacts beyond that of the ozone layer, itself. It is indirectly as a result of that.
Ms. CARPENTER. We should also mention that is not just environmentalists that have come up with the idea that this is an ozone-depleting substance. I believe it was a panel of quite a few atmospheric scientists that determined that methyl bromide was an ozone depleter, and that was studied under the United Nations
Mr. PETERSON. One last question. What also makes methyl bromide, besidesI mean, what is the other natural occurrence which contributes to the atmosphere the most?
Mr. ENEBAK. Methyl bromide is produced in the oceans naturally. It is produced by plants, brassica, broccolianother reason not to eat it. [Laughter.]
Canola is another source, as well as it is produced in forest fires.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As mentioned earlier, the question is how much are we producing compared to how much is being naturally produced, and that is the equation. We do not know the equation. We have talked a lot of figures and numbers here. We know we have got a pretty good idea how much we are going to lose in crops, whether they be forestry nurseries, strawberries, tomatoes. We know what that is going to cost, but we do not know what methyl bromide is costing to the ozone layer.
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for not being here for all the testimony.
There are very few things in Alabama I think that are causing more problems or more concern right now than the elimination of methyl bromide. I have a lot of sod farms in my District. They say that there is absolutely no other product available today that will suppress nematodes and some of the other problems that they have.
But I hope we can arrive at some kind of conclusion. It is interesting to me that we are having a discussion about taking a product that we know is safe and has been effective off of the market when we can't quantify the amount that we are using as compared to what the ocean might produce.
Dr. Enebak, the ocean is very large. I cannot imagine that we could do anything that would even be comparable to what it might produce.
Mr. ENEBAK. Well, I have some estimates in here. Again, the best guess today60 to 100 kilotons per year. I mean, that is a lot of methyl bromide being produced by the ocean. We do not even know if that is getting up into the stratosphere.
The whole question is how much are we using compared to what is naturally being produced.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. How much would we produce commercially every year?
Mr. ENEBAK. I do not even know the figure for that.
Mr. RILEY. Would you say it is more or less than what the ocean is producing?
Mr. ENEBAK. I would say it is much less.
Mr. RILEY. Is it 10 percent, 1 percent, 50 percent?
Mr. ENEBAK. I do not know.
Mr. RILEY. Does anyone on the panel know commercially how much we are producing now?
Mr. NOLING. I do not want to address the actual amounts, themselves, but if you want to look at proportional differences here, the most current estimates, I believe, that the oceansand principally two species of brown algae, for example, are actually responsible for the productionis somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 percent of all of the methyl bromide that finds its way into the upper stratosphere comes directly from the oceans, themselves.
Now, when you look at the other contributors, I think they are thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 percent comes directly from the burning of leaded gasolines, which we do not do principally here in the United States any more.
Then there are biomass burnings that contribute somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 to 10 percent.
Now, the remainder, which is, like, in the neighborhood of about 10 percent, comes from anthropogenic sources which are the manmade sources which are the uses for soil fumigation, the uses for milling and things like that. So it is about 10 percent.
Mr. RILEY. Okay.
Mr. NOLING. Now, I won't recite this perfectly, but one of the most recent scientific assessments indicates that if we were to ban it right now and in the 40-year recovery period for methyl bromide, the impact of altering and banning methyl bromide is reasonably insignificant, and that is something that has been developed from the atmospheric scientists, themselves.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. Would the gentleman yield for just a minute?
Mr. RILEY. Sure.
Mr. POMBO. To put it in context maybe, according to the United Nations Environment Program, the methyl bromide that is coming from the sources we are talking about is, according to their estimate, is 0.4 percent of the total.
Mr. RILEY. Total produced commercially?
Mr. POMBO. No.
Mr. RILEY. And natural?
Mr. POMBO. Yes. The total. According to this, it says 0.4 percent, so it is less than one half of one percent.
Mr. RILEY. That doesn't seem like a lot.
Well, let's take this from another perspective, then. If there are no other alternatives, Dr. Enebak, do you know of any other studies that are going on at any other major universities today that might, within the next few years, foreseeable future, offer an alternative?
Mr. ENEBAK. I can speak from the nursery perspective. The only people doing any research on alternatives is currently being done at the co-op, and that is work that I have been doing on the biological scale, and then the other people have been looking at the chemical.
There have been some previous studies, USDA-funded, of a lot of Forest Service trials looking at soil amendments adding bark and this kind of stuff to nurseries. Those kind of things phased out. I think the last report, 1997, was the last time they looked at that.
There is no other, as far as forestry and nurseries, ongoing research to look at alternatives.
Mr. RILEY. So just about all the research being done today is being financed commercially? The land grant colleges do not have any programs?
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ENEBAK. My research is being funded by land grant, and then whatever the co-op pays for their dues to help us put in these studies along with their cooperation. Yes.
Mr. RILEY. Dr. Enebak and I had an opportunity this morning to speak briefly in my office. One of the things that he brought up, it seems like we are concentrating very narrowly on what happens to the nurseries, but I was in the poultry business for 25 years and we used methyl bromide, and it was the only substance that we had available at that time to control mold in our corn bins. And if you take this away, I think we are going to have a much larger program and much larger problem in this country than just what is happening in the nurseries.
When you get into the Midwest, I do not know of another product that is available when you have just literally thousands and thousands and millions of tons of grain. If you take methyl bromide away from them, I do not know how you will ever control the fungus or the mold growth in those silos.
If that happens, I am not too sureI know without it in ours we would have lost probably 10 to 20 percent of our corn storage every year, but because you use methyl bromide and it was a gas, we basically sterilized that corn.
So I think we are talking about something here that is much more important than just to the nurseries, and thus of extreme importance.
Is there any other product that you know of that you could use to retard mold growth from soybeans, corn, wheat, that would be in a gaseous form that you could use in a silo?
Mr. ENEBAK. I do not. There was some testimony earlier about testing some things, and one was phosphine, and you talked about the difficulties with that. I know of no other fumigant that can be used to make these grains sterile.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You talk about the molds and mildews. In my training as a plant pathologist, some of the first fungi to appear on these are your aspergillus and your fusarium, and the presence of those fungi produce some toxins, aflatoxins.
Mr. RILEY. Will methyl bromide kill an aflatoxin?
Mr. ENEBAK. No, but it will kill the fungus that produces the aflatoxin.
Mr. RILEY. Okay.
Mr. ENEBAK. So it goes beyond, and aflatoxin is a pretty nasty toxin, and this will grow on the grain if they do not fumigate it.
Mr. RILEY. What percentage of our grain crop would you think would be destroyed if you did not have access to methyl bromide in these silos?
Mr. ENEBAK. I have no idea. We need our millers here.
Ms. CARPENTER. I should mention that very little methyl bromide is actually used in grain storage now. It is primarily phosphine that is being used. But we did hear earlier this morning is from the millers and the critical use for them is in the structures, in their processing facilities.
Mr. RILEY. You are talking about in the elevators, in their conveying?
Ms. CARPENTER. I do not believe it is used for those uses, at least not to any great extent. The concern is more in the mills.
Mr. RILEY. Where in the mills?
Do we have any millers left here?
Ms. CARPENTER. There was a miller this morning who knows much more about that than I do.
Mr. RILEY. Well, I hope there is an alternative, because it has been 15 or 20 years since I actually owned and operated a feed mill, but at that time I do not know of an alternative, and if you take this off the market and there is no commercially-available alternative out there, I think we could have a tremendous problem.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One other thing. If we do not have any research going on at our land grant colleges that we are funding either through USDA or through some of our other farm programs with the scope of the problems that I foreseeand I think that is something, Mr. Chairman, that we should maybe look into and see if we can't come up with some research funds for some of these universities out there that may be able to develop some type of alternative methods.
Mr. DUNIWAY. May I comment about that?
Mr. RILEY. Sure.
Mr. DUNIWAY. There's actually quite a lot of Federal and other public monies going into research on alternatives to methyl bromide. I do not have the numbers with me here, but the USDA ARS has quite a significant program. Universities such as my own, the University of California, as well as the University of Florida, have very significant programs. There is quite a significant research effort out there.
The difficulty is the fact that this is a difficult task, to find a real replacement that is truly effectiveor replacements, I should sayfor methyl bromide.
So more resources will certainly help, but I should also point out that there are significant resources in place and there is a lot of research is being done, but this is not an easy task and not one we can do by the calendar that is set at this time by the Montreal Protocol.
Mr. RILEY. Again, I apologize for missing your testimony, but, to sum it up, what are your recommendations if we take it off the market, or is your recommendation that we postpone that deadline?
Mr. DUNIWAY. My own opinion as a professional plant pathologist and working with these programs as they occur in the field and so forth is that the time line for the current withdrawal and phase-down of methyl bromide is unrealistic. We cannot meet those deadlines without a lot of damage in certain segments of agriculture, and that in the longer run there are some critical uses of methyl bromide that ought to be allowed beyond the 2005 phaseout year.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NOLING. Could I take a moment just to add to that?
Mr. RILEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. NOLING. I feel remiss in that I didn't really crystalize some of the things that I should have said at the end.
I would ditto a lot of what John has also said, too, but I should also indicate that the impacts during this interim phase, with each interim reduction, the problems associated with diseases in soil-borne pests are going to intensify. We have seen those now. In terms of the formulation changes and the availability of these products in the last reduction, itself, the incidence and severity of pest problems in Florida strawberries, for example, was observed to increase. We have not confirmed that it is directly associated with that, that the cause and effect hasn't been proven, but it is likely a result of that, and that is going to intensify with each additional increment.
I would also indicate that some linking of the impacts to a phaseout schedule is really mandatory, in itself, and some continuance of the use of methyl bromide for critical usesand I do not want it to fall into this category where somehow you have to show that you have demonstrated that every alternative is less effective or is economically less cost effective or whatever. That is not the route to go. There are nursery stocks, for example, which provide the source ofclean, pest-free planting material is the foundation for any integrated pest management program, and it just seems so ludicrous to consider anything but preserving at least some uses for that for the long term.
It is thimble-fulls compared to what is used in many other incidences.
Mr. RILEY. Dr. Enebak.
Mr. ENEBAK. We have already seen an increase in herbicides being used because we are losing weed control, so we talked about if this has been documented. Well, no one has really had the time to document. Nursery managers have been waiting for an alternative to show up, for a scientist to come up with one, and we have been unable to, so already we are seeing increases in wheat and herbicide use and fungicide use, and we are seeing a decrease in seedling quality.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, as far as what this is going to go, we do not have an alternative. As I mentioned earlier, I have nothing in my back pocket and we have run out of time.
We are here because we see this as this whole time line is not realistic, and how methyl bromide even got on the list in the first place is difficult to understand. So I guess I am at my last rope's end here. I do not know what the nurseries are going to do in two years.
Mr. RILEY. Someone said a moment ago that if you were in a confined building with methyl bromide that you might have some problems. I talked to Dr. Enebak today and he said it wasn't the methyl bromide, it was actually from a productand I forgot what he called it, but it was basically tear gas that causes the problem that is in the methyl bromide, it is not the methyl bromide, itself. Is that true?
Mr. ENEBAK. No, the methyl bromide is a biocide. What chloropicrin is, it is a colorless, odorless gas, so you do not know you are being exposed to methyl bromide. What the chloropicrin does is it lets you know you are being exposed to methyl bromide.
Mr. RILEY. But today you do not have to wear gloves to handle methyl bromide, you do not have to
Mr. ENEBAK. No. The PPE requirements are that you are not supposed to wear gloves or rubber boots or respirators. You are just out there on the tractor and you inject it in the soil and it is covered with tarp and you are fine.
To my knowledge, it has never beenin fact, the story is there are more nursery managers killed with wood stoves then methyl bromide because their building burned down. The only person I know of that was killed by methyl bromide was someone who broke into a greenhouse and shouldn't have been in there and that killed them.
So methyl bromide is a very safe, relatively safe compound, so its banning is difficult to take.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. Yes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. POMBO. I just had one final question dealing with IPM. Most of my growers are going to some kind of an integrated pest management program. They are trying to limit their use of chemicals, no matter what they are. A lot of what is driving that is cost, but they are trying to go to alternative methods and only using the chemical as a last resort.
It appears to me that, with what they have been doing, that using methyl bromide because of the expense of using that particular chemical, they are using it as a last resort. They are trying to avoid using it at all cost, and when they get to the point where they do have to use it, they do. But if we do not have it any more, then there is nothing available to them that knocks down the pest or knocks down the nematode that exists, and they have no choice but to use other chemicals a lot more.
I asked earlier about what the environmental impacts would be of doing this. It appears to me that they would be put in a position of having to use a lot more of something else in order to control their problem.
I know that all of you have worked actively with production. How do you respond to that?
Mr. DUNIWAY. A couple of comments. First of all, you are rightthere would be increases of other pesticide use, certainly in strawberry production in California, without soil fumigation with methyl bromide. There is a whole cascade of disease and pest problems that evolve when you do not fumigate the soil, and they range from mites to certain kinds of fungal pathogens, weeds, et cetera. So herbicides, fungicides, miticides, et cetera, that use would go up.
There is one thing I would add to your comment, though, and that is in strawberry production in California you are dealing with a very high-value, high-input cropping system, and the fumigation is done on a routine basis because it gives consistency and approximately doubles the yield.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are talking about grower inputs that run on the order of $10,000 to $12,000 per acre before they start picking, and you cannot go to a bank and get a loan or you cannot put that kind of money at risk unless you have a system that works with some certainty.
So methyl bromide as a fumigant in soil has given that increment of consistency and productivity in strawberry production that has made the industry what it is today, so it is not just a precautionary use, it is a routine part of a highly-integrated production system at this time.
Mr. POMBO. Dr. Noling.
Mr. NOLING. I do not think there is any question that environmental loadings of pesticides, in general, have to increase, given the nature and the diversity and the frequency with which you would have to apply various different pesticides to provide something equivalent to that of methyl bromide.
There is also the issue of worker exposures. I mean, when you are dealing with multiple different pesticides, that is an issue, I think, that would have to be addressed, as well.
I do not personally work in that particular arena, but there have been various different groundwater studies, for example, that have been conducted in Florida, and to my knowledge, with the exception of copper, which is used as a fungicide, they have not made any detections of any major pesticides that are frequently used in agriculture.
It is not clear to me whether we are talking about any significant environmental impacts. I think it is the regulatory constraints, themselves, that will drive whether these things can be truly constituted as viable alternatives, and I tried to bring that out both orally and in written testimony here.
The whole idea of IPM you should realize is something that is dictated by knowing which pests are there, and right now the technology has not been generated to be provided to growers to accurately assess whether these pests are even there, and the cost in which to do that would be truly prohibitive.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we are expecting growers to actually perform IPM, but really have not provided the tools, nor have we provided it in a way that it would be cost effective to them to compare it against the use of methyl bromide. It is no wonder they have to use methyl bromide It is purely protective in an economic way.
So there are many other constraints, and they perform IPM, but when you talked about IPM, there are many other problems growers face in implementing IPM on a large scale field base. So that would be my comment with regard to that.
Mr. POMBO. Well, I think one mistake that we are all making when we look at the use of other chemicals is that, with the way EPA is currently implementing FQPA, a lot of these other chemicals they won't be able to use anyway.
[Witnesses indicate in the affirmative.]
Mr. POMBO. So you are talking about a risk cup that, through some asinine assumptions, they are assuming is full now, and if you are going to make all the assumptions, then all of the sudden you have to begin to assume that we are going to ban methyl bromide, so they are going to have to use something else, so the risk cup is going to get fuller and we are not going to have anything to use, and so maybe it is a moot point to begin with and we can just buy strawberries from Mexico.
I thank all of you for coming in. I realize that it is a hardship to all of you to take time away and come up here and testify, and I appreciate all of you doing that.
This has been a very informative hearing. This helps to build the case that something does need to be done and some common sense needs to be put back into our regulatory environment that we have created in this country, and I appreciate all of you being here.
Thank you very much. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:07 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Testimony of Jay Taylor
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
My name is Jay Taylor. I am president of Taylor & Fulton Inc., an integrated growing and packing operation located on the eastern seaboard of the United States. We have farming operations in several locations in Florida as well Georgia and Virginia. Our company averages in excess of $35 million in sales and employs over a thousand people company wide.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. It's not often that you can get a fruit and vegetable farmer to leave his crop and come to Washington. This issue is that important. Methyl Bromide is not the future of my business and I know that. It is the present. There is no viable, economic alternative available today and I can't bet the farm on there being one tomorrow. Will there be one? Yes, and I hope that day is soon but it is not here yet.
My brother and I grow tomatoes, strawberries and mixed vegetables in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. In fact, I came across the Chesapeake this morning from our farms on the Eastern Shore. We are fourth generation farmers in Florida and have a fifth generation already involved. We hope to be able to continue to farm and grow the fruits and vegetables this country needs now and in the future.
The American farmer is the most productive in the world. We grow more with less people than any other country in the world. We supply the American people with a safe and wholesome food supply year round and at very affordable prices. In fact, we have the cheapest supply of food in the world. Sometimes that's not so good for the farmer! The reason that we are so productive and can supply quality foods at reasonable prices is through hard work, bountiful natural resources and the use of technology. Methyl Bromide has allowed the farmers of America to produce higher yields and better quality from the farms across the country. And yet, the farmers of today wonder about the future and what we will be able to pass on to our children.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My brother and I have had the opportunity to grow crops with out the use of Methyl Bromide. We started a farming operation in the Dominican Republic and did not have the use of Methyl Bromide as a soil fumigant and we only grew one crop in that country. Puerto Rico continues to grow winter vegetables on the very next island and yet there is no export to the states from the Dominican Republic today. There is no better testimony to the importance of crop protection chemicals. Puerto Rico is a viable growing area with the protection afforded by modern science and the Dominican Republic is unable to compete without the availability of those very same protections.
I have said before and I must say again that the American people, which you each represent, need to decide whether or not they want a safe and wholesome supply of food grown in this country. If they do and they certainly should, then they need to consider us as partners in the future and work with us to develop the technologies that will enable us to do the job that we have done so well in the past on into the future. The technology is not there as of yet to eliminate this vital tool that we use and we need the time to come up with a suitable replacement. That is all we ask. The scientific panel that is here today certainly shows that the manpower and resources are going into that task and I would hope for more. This committee needs to find a way to enact appropriate legislation to allow the agricultural community, both production and scientific, the time to come up with the viable alternative we all know is out there. Sometimes fruit and vegetable growers feel that their best interests are ignored inside the beltway by the very people that should be our advocates. The USDA and the Agriculture Committee too often must serve the greater good of the agricultural industry in America at the expense of the so called ''specialty crops.'' This is an issue that all of agriculture can agree on, and so, one that should get the full support of the Congress.
We have lost farmland to suburbia, we have lost workers to a booming economy, we have lost market share to foreign competition, please don't prematurely take away the tools with which we provide the food that America eats.
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Statement of Joseph W. Noling
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important hearing. As a research and extension nematologist with the University of Florida, it is my job, more importantly my responsibility, to develop nematode management strategies which are cost effective, environmentally compatible, and worker safe. During the past 15 years, I have had many opportunities to research various pest management tactics and to observe the outcomes of this experimentation and the degree to which various pest problems or cultural practices effect fruit and vegetable crop production within Florida. As a University scientist, I am here to provide testimony and opinion regarding the likely impact to Florida agriculture of the phaseout of methyl bromide, and the extent to which viable alternatives currently exist. I also have served on the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and as statewide coordinator for alternatives to methyl bromide research in Florida for the past six years.
The main message of my testimony is that every currently defined potential alternative, at their present stages of research and development, comes with certain practical constraints or incompatibilities, which affect the technological or economical feasibility of the potential alternative. These constraints, such as high costs, lower efficacy, increased production or environmental risks, regulatory constraints, and/or reduced farm profitability can negatively impact future widespread adoption of such alternative. The adoption of these alternatives will involve tradeoffs of one sort or another, and can have tremendous future impacts on Florida agriculture. In addition, the extent to which we can rely on any of these tactics as long-term solutions in the absence of methyl bromide has not been scientifically, statistically, or practically established. We need further testing.
I cannot overemphasize the difficulty of providing simple descriptions of the viabilities of potential alternatives, as the appropriateness of a given alternative or alternative system is dependent on a variety of interrelated factors such as climate, market, pest level and presence, land and labor availability, soil type and condition, proximity to residential housing, to name but a few. The complex interaction of these factors requires choice of best alternatives to be developed on a fieldby field basis. At present it is not possible to provide the level of detail required to make this analysis or formulate a prescription for all crop production systems currently using methyl bromide. Nevertheless, there are some practices which have widespread applicability, though not necessarily producing the same yield or profitability as methyl bromide and which may need local testing and manipulation to perform to their full potential.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since 1993, when methyl bromide was added to the class 1 category of ozone depleting substances and a phaseout date of 2001 established under the Clean Air Act, a considerable amount of research has been conducted by University of Florida scientists, the objective of which is to identify and evaluate alternatives to methyl bromide with minimal agricultural impact. As a statewide coordinator of these efforts, I am familiar with current research on alternatives to methyl bromide.
A brief summary of recent studies in Florida shows that no single, equivalent replacement (chemical or nonchemical) currently exists which matches the broadspectrum efficacy of methyl bromide. For example, a summary of over 20 large scale field demonstration trials evaluating various chemical alternatives suggests that a chemical cocktail of different fumigants (1,3 dichloropropene with chloropicrin) and a separate, but complementary herbicide treatment may have potential as a methyl bromide alternative to control soilborne pests and sustain crop yield. Since 1996 these trials have focused on comparisons of Telone C17 or Telone C35 applied inrow or broadcast, in combination with the herbicide Tillam to methyl bromide for weed, disease, and nematode control and for tomato crop yield response. Although with some variability, average yield of the Telone C17 or C35 + Tillam inrow treatments is expected to be within 1 to 5 percent of methyl bromide yield. The requirement for a full spray suit, rubber gloves, boots, and a full face respirator by all personnel in the field at the time of fumigant application has prompted a new research focus towards evaluation of broadcast, rather than inrow, treatments applied prior to bedding to minimize the numbers of field workers and personnel protective equipment requirements. Based on the results of only a few large-scale demonstration trials, tomato yields averaged from broadcast Telone treatments are expected to be about 1015 percent less than that of methyl bromide. It is reasonable to believe at this time that yield losses currently estimated for use of Telone broadcast treatments potentially can be reduced with additional research and refinements in application technology. It is not clear at this time however, whether any U.S. EPA regulatory change to reduce the requirement for personal protective equipment (boots, gloves, respirators, etc.) or to reduce buffer zones, which currently restrict application of Telone products within 300 feet of any occupied dwelling, is achievable in the near term. Nor is their any certainty whether certain herbicides such as Tillam (Pebulate), which serves as an integral component of the methyl bromide potential alternative for tomatoes, will be available in the future if certain regulatory issues are not resolved between the U.S. EPA and chemical manufacturer.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The impact of these regulatory constraints regarding use of Tillam and Telone products (1,3 dichloropropene and chloropicrin) cannot be overstated. For example, regulatory implementation of buffer zone restrictions will almost assuredly preclude use of this best alternative approach within the majority of the current Florida strawberry producing acreage due to the close proximity of residential housing to most fields. These fields are actually bounded on most sides by either commercial structures, grower homes, or residential housing. To satisfy Federal pesticide label requirements, Florida strawberry growers only recourse at this time is to actually acquire new land and move production to isolated rural areas where buffer zones are not a consideration. At this time, no other alternative pest and production system has been identified which does not result in significant strawberry yield and profit reduction. Nor is there land available which is environmentally suited for strawberry production and at the same permitted for irrigation use of water use by state water management districts. In the short term, significant impacts to the Florida strawberry industry are expected with each interim reduction step of the methyl bromide phaseout. Some provision for the continued use of methyl bromide must be considered to preserve the economic viability of these very important agricultural industries.
If broadcast application technologies cannot be developed to sustain economic production, then the requirement for rubber gloves, boots, full face respirator, and coveralls for all workers in the field at the time of fumigant application constitutes yet another major obstacle to the implementation of Telone / 1,3 dichloropropene and chloropicrin combination product. Given current state and Federal rules and recommendations governing heat stress avoidance in workers by growers, continuance of personal protective equipment requirements could as much as triple labor requirements (if additional labor forces can be made available) for the field application process of this compound. In some states, field workers are prohibited from working in full spray suits at temperatures in excess of 85 degrees F. Temperatures of this magnitude are common in Florida agriculture.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The breadth and focus of the methyl bromide alternatives research program in Florida is not limited exclusively to evaluations of chemical combination treatment regimes. Rather, the program encompasses an evaluation of a diversity of nonchemical tactics as well. Since 1993, the nonchemical alternatives which have been evaluated for broad spectrum soil borne pest control in field experimentation include:
(1) Cover Crops
(2) Nematode Resistant Crop Varieties
(3) Organic Amendments
(4) Solarization / Biofumigation
(5) Biological Control Agents
(6) Paper and Plastic Mulch Technologies and Emissions Reduction
(7) Natural Product Pesticides
(8) Super Heated Water (Hotwater) and Steam
(9) Crop Rotation
(10) Supplemental Fertilization
The results from some of the nonchemical studies has been encouraging, but in most cases should be construed as incomplete from a soil pest control or crop yield enhancement perspective. Many are only marginally effective (at this time), but also impractical, cost prohibitive, or having requirements for specialized equipment and operators. In addition, none of the nonchemical tactics should be considered stand alone replacement strategies for methyl bromide soil fumigation at this time. As a result, new field studies evaluating combinations of nonchemical tactics have been proposed or are in progress to establish cumulative impacts toward soilborne pest and disease control and to crop yields. However, the proximity of the currently defined interim reductions of January 1, 2001 and of January 1, 2003 should be considered major obstacles towards the evaluation, development, and implementation for many of these proposed nonchemical alternatives.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I should also point out that research within Florida has been principally confined to the tomato and strawberry industries. Moreover, a host of other crops currently dependent upon methyl bromide still require a considerable amount of discovery type research. These crops include for example, pepper, eggplant, cucurbits, cut flowers, caladiums, turf, and ornamentals. Further, the consequences to the current double cropping systems have not been considered for any of the crops identified above. It is often the profit from a second crop, benefiting from residual pest control properties of the initial methyl bromide treatment, that economically sustains the overall production system in Florida. Besides farm level impacts, please recognize that all of these industries are very important to state and local economies, and significant multiplier effects are expected to spill over into other areas of the private sector.
In addition, multiyear studies have not been performed to determine whether crop yields under high pest pressures, and diverse geographical / environmental conditions, can be consistently achieved with potential alternatives. This is of particular concern since the long history of methyl bromide usage mitigates recurring pest problems. As pointed out previously, research efforts evaluating many of the nonchemical alternatives are in a very preliminary stage, and have not been studied in sufficient detail and at multiple locations to accurately predict either short and long term impacts. A considerable amount of critical research remains to be done to be of any practical benefit to Florida growers at the time of the proposed phaseout. All the while the industry is pressed with the interim reductions.
Since little or no information exists on which to base the effectiveness of alternative pest management systems for all of the various crops and producing regions in Florida, new research efforts are critical and must be initiated immediately to take advantage of the few planting cycles remaining before new incremental phaseout reductions take effect. Contingency plans and strategies must also be researched given the likelihood that alternatives developed now may not be available for the future. Without additional information, recommendations to growers will not be clearly established or well defined. To facilitate the search for economically and environmentally viable alternatives, and to expand grower awareness of these pending problems, broader participation and greater support of ongoing field research efforts is urgently required. Additional research and extension funds would help alleviate some, but probably not all, of the problems, uncertainties, and risks which face Florida farmers.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the final analysis, the future success for development of effective soilborne pest and disease control in Florida crops now dependent on methyl bromide will require an integrated approach involving combinations of multiple tactics. In general, commercial development and expanded use of new integrated pest management tactics (since IPM is already practiced in large degree) will depend on overcoming a number of technical, environmental, regulatory, and economic constraints. For example, IPM programs cannot be implemented until additional target specific pest management tactics become available and an economically feasible program for estimating pest densities occurring in the field is developed.
In conclusion, I would like to indicate that in the past, when other soil fumigants were withdrawn from the market, replacement chemicals and or nonchemical strategies were available or soon developed. With the loss of methyl bromide, there will be no single replacement that will provide similar efficacy for all pest and disease problems. Further, further testing needs to occur before even combination products can be established as true alternatives.
Please recognize that methyl bromide continues to be a critical pest management tool to many U.S. farmers. After the methyl bromide phaseout, growers will have to rely on other chemical and nonchemical pest and crop management strategies. During the methyl bromide phaseout, growers are trying to learn how to use these alternative systems. The change from methyl bromide to another system will not occur without problems. Given the limited time remaining before the next interim reduction of an additional 25 percent on January 1, 2001 and another 20 percent effective January 1, 2003, it is imperative that Florida growers actively continue field testing of methyl bromide alternatives. With the transition from methyl bromide to other alternative strategies, new problems are expected to surface because they were unnecessary considerations with something as flexible as methyl bromide. For example, in every grower field which has been surveyed, a compacted zone (traffic layer) occurs at a soil depth of 68 inches. The presence of the zone may ultimately influence the overall success of an alternative fumigant treatment and dictate the time and degree to which various soilborne pests and pathogens recolonize the plant root system. Reduced ability to adequately manage weeds within the field will not only affect crop yields in itself but serve as alternative hosts to nematodes, causing additional crop production problems. It has also been shown that various herbicides persist, and have the ability to cause crop phytotoxic responses for a much longer time in fumigated, microbially inactive soils. Uniform management of the soil water table will also be more critical in the post methyl bromide era, since deep injection of some fumigants into saturated soil horizons has been observed to remain virtually undegraded in soil, causing planting delays, significant yield reductions, and potentially other problems. What should be evident, is that not everything can be predicted or foreseen, and large scale field problems can be expected with each interim reduction, as the methyl bromide phaseout proceeds towards January 1, 2005. These impacts will be even more severe if regulatory constraints regarding availability and use of some chemical alternatives are not resolved.
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Statement of Cecil Martinez
Mr. Chairman, my name is Cecil Martinez. I am a strawberry farmer in Ventura County, CA. I farm 88 acres of strawberries and employ approximately 200 people. I have served on the California Strawberry Commission for 5 years as a member of the research committee and for the last two seasons I have been chairman of the plant pathology sub-committee which has directed our methyl bromide alternatives research.
As a farmer, I have always been an experimenter. I am always seeking new ways to make my farm more efficient, more productive, safer. That is why I have made my land available for methyl bromide alternative trials conducted by the Strawberry Commission, USDA and the University of California for the last 3 years. I think I can talk about the viability of the alternatives to methyl bromide available to California farmers from a basis of hands-on, practical and scientific expertise.
The California strawberry industry shares the same fate as literally hundreds of agricultural industries throughout the United States. The crops we produce are diverse, but we share a common concern about the potential loss of an important crop protection toolmethyl bromide. Our message is simple. The current phase out of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol will cause serious economic disruption to many segments of American agriculture, economic losses to communities that are reliant on our farms, the loss of jobs and a loss of international competitiveness. In short, this is a wreck waiting to happen.
RESEARCH INTO METHYL BROMIDE ALTERNATIVES
The California strawberry industry has placed the highest priority on mobilizing resources and coordinating research to find viable alternatives for methyl bromide prior to the regulatory deadline for phase-out. Just two weeks ago we hosted a field day in Watsonville, California which included tours of the largest methyl bromide alternatives test plot in the country. This facility, located on the grounds of the Monterey Bay Academy includes the work of over 20 USDA and University of California scientists. Funding for this research is provided by strawberry growers such as myself through our assessments to the Strawberry Commission and we receive grants from USDA, EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to the tour of the MBA Test Plot, we also visited the farms of two growers who have large scale field trials of the most likely alternatives and expanded in field trails of other potential alternatives. The entire research strategy of the Strawberry Commission was discussed including expanded nursery trials, developing new strawberry varieties resistant to diseases, organic research, long term theoretical research and basic soil science.
As I noted, I have had one such experiment on my farm for the last three seasons and have gained a great deal of first hand knowledge about the impacts and limitations of the various alternatives to methyl bromide.
Individually and collectively strawberry farmers are making a substantial commitment to research which will be valuable for our farms and farmers throughout the world as we work through this difficult transition to methyl bromide alternatives.
But, the clear and simple fact is that economically viable alternatives for strawberry growers are not currently available in California.
NEED FOR METHYL BROMIDE IN STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION
As a pre-plant treatment, methyl bromide is used more or less as a disinfectant for the soil. It rids the soil of pathogens that attack the delicate roots systems of newly planted crops. In strawberries and similar cropping systems methyl bromide is used in both our foundation nurseries and in fruiting fields. Despite substantial investments in research we have been unsuccessful in identifying an economically viable, effective alternative.
Professor Douglas Shaw, University of California, Davis who conducts research on strawberry variety improvement and integrated cultural practices has conducted a statistical analysis of over 47 studies on methyl bromide alternatives for strawberries. His conclusion is ''cultivation of strawberries without fumigation is not an option. Growers can expect to loose 37 percent of their yields in the first cultivation cycle without fumigation and the soil deteriorates over the next 23 cycles ending with almost 60 percent reduction in yield. This result occurs absent any identifiable effects of lethal pathogens that would reduce yields further; we have not reached the end point yet.''
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Even the next best alternative, which by the way is not available under current regulation, Dr. Shaw estimates through nursery propagation and first year field use would result in a 19.5 percent initial decline in strawberry yields.
You can find similar impacts in nursery stock grown for tree fruits and nut orchards and vineyards. For many vegetable growers, methyl bromide controls devastating nematodes and weeds. In strawberries and other crops the loss of methyl bromide will disrupt advanced integrated pest management programs that have enabled us to substantially reduce the use of pesticides throughout the harvest cycle.
The loss of methyl bromide on my farm will result in stunted plants, loss of production, increased costs and a loss of jobs. Weak plants, the difficulty of controlling weeds and higher incidents of soil borne diseases also jeopardizes my Integrated Pest Management strategy. Using cultural practices and releasing beneficial insects to control harmful pests simply can't succeed when the plants are too weak to protect themselves or the pest load is too high.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a couple of seconds to explain to the committee, what happens when we use a less effective alternative to methyl bromide. First the root system of the plant itself is weaker. Research has shown that the plants we receive from the nursery not treated with methyl bromide will be weaker and may carry diseases such as phytophthora and verticillium. Both of these diseases can cause severe plant stunting and even mortality. In years where we have heavy rains, these diseases can spread and kill large sections of the field. So, right from the beginning we are building on a weak foundation.
As these plants mature they are vulnerable to other soil borne diseases and foliar diseases and their natural resistance to pests such as two-spotted spider mites and white flies is diminished. Weak and diseased plants actually become a breeding ground for insect pests that can rapidly spread throughout my field.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, methyl bromide controls weeds. Failure to control weeds will mean not only more time, labor and money, but also weeds themselves can harbor many diseases and pests.
Finally, the combination of less productive plants and a less desirable environment has a tremendous impact on labor. Pulling weeds instead of picking strawberries, more insect pests in the field, harder to pick strawberries '' put all of this together and I don't know if I could keep a crew.
In short, all of the alternatives that have been suggested for methyl bromide are less effective, require more time and expense and are often less environmentally friendly than methyl bromide. With further research, we might be able to mitigate these issues, but that takes time. What we can not over come is that in California many of these products are severely restricted or not yet registered for use. That also takes time.
Regarding the assertions that there are many alternatives for methyl bromide, I want to note that the strawberry industry and many other agricultural groups represented by the Crop Protection Coalition have voiced continued concern about the process of identifying and reporting on alternatives used by the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) of Montreal Protocol of the U.N. Environmental Programme. Dr. John Duniway, University of California, Davis, Department of Plant Pathology will testify on the limitations of the specific alternatives identified by MBTOC.
But, I would like to point out that The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reports on the alternatives to methyl bromide have been terribly flawed. In fact, the TEAP reports in 1995 and 1997 both were obligated to issue corrigendums because of flawed conclusions. And these reports have been the foundation of decision making under the Montreal Protocol, the Clean Air and Act and EPA's rule making on the amendments to the Clean Air Act
COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT-NO LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is important to keep in mind also that strawberry farmers in the United States are still at a serious competitive disadvantage versus our international competitors particularly those just a few miles south in Mexico. I want to emphasize that the viability of an alternative to methyl bromide is directly linked to the regulation of our competitors. Farmers in California must reduce the use of methyl bromide 50 percent next year and 70 percent in 2003. On the other hand, developing nations, the countries with whom we compete most directly like Mexico, Chile, China, India, face only a freeze in 2002, a 20 percent reduction in 2005 and no phase out until 2015. In fact, use of methyl bromide is substantially increasing in these countries and will continue to increase from now until 2002, the very time when American farms face a radical alteration of our farming systems due to the loss of methyl bromide.
It is also important to note that American farmers must adhere to substantially higher standards of wage and hour law, field sanitation and environmental regulation than our competitors. These things increase our cost of farming and we have dealt with these increased costs by being remarkably efficient. We can't do that if a vital tool of our production system is removed without a viable alternative. Our competitors can solve a lot of problems with cheap labor. We don't have that option in the United States nor do we want it, but you can imagine how difficult it will be to compete with farmers who have cheap labor, less stringent environmental standards and methyl bromide.
I want to conclude by saying that my opinions on this have come from extensive research conducted by the California Strawberry Commission in many cases on my farm. We have not come to this point without trying to find an answer. We simply need more time to refine the limited alternatives available to us and allow time for the regulatory process to make potentially viable alternatives available.
Finally, I am not an atmospheric scientist, but I have read extensively the reports from various scientists and the U.N. Environmental Programme itself. It seems to me that the science supporting the phase out of methyl bromide is far from conclusive. As farmers, we are being asked to face a severe economic disruption and to use less environmentally sound tools not just for the strawberry industry, but for literally hundreds of agricultural industries around the world. So, we urge the Congress to seriously consider a thorough review of the state of the scientific evidence that supports this action before we proceed.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.
Testimony of Mark Norton
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Mark Norton. I am vice-president for production at Bay State Milling Company. We operate mills in Winona, MN; Mooresville, NC; Tolleson, AZ; Clifton, NJ; and Indiantown, FL. We also are partners with wheat farmers in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado through our management of mills in Saginaw, Texas and Platteville, Colorado. Through those seven mills, we grind more than 187,000 bushels daily to produce more than eight million pounds of flour each day.
I am here to testify on behalf of the North American Millers' Association (NAMA). NAMA's 43 member companies operate 172 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 37 States. Their aggregate production capacity is more than 160 million pounds of product daily, which is about 90 percent of the total U.S. capacity.
The other testimony you will hear this morning will focus on the importance of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant in fruit and vegetable production, or as a pre-shipment treatment for fruit and nut exports. My testimony, however, will describe the use of the fumigant in another vital industrygrain milling.
Methyl bromide is typically used in the milling industry twice annually to fumigate the physical mill structure and the equipment it contains. We do not fumigate grain or products like flour.
It is a highly effective treatment for ensuring the production of high quality, wholesome food in a sanitary environment free of insects. Doing so is good business, not just because the Food and Drug Administration requires it, but because consumers expect it.
As an industry we have already taken steps to reduce our usage of methyl bromide by applying it at levels 25 percent or less of what is approved by EPA. Despite that effort, and despite legislation passed by Congress in 1998 that specifically gave EPA the authority to exempt this important use, we are still facing a ban on the compound.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Banning methyl bromide in the U.S. must not really be about saving the environment, for if it were the U.S. would insist on it being banned everywhere at the same time. And that would be a legitimate public policy debatefood production and food safety on one hand versus environmental goals on the other. That is a debate we'd welcome. Banning it here, but not worldwide, only handicaps U.S. farmers and industry without any offsetting environmental gain. That doesn't make any sense.
Northern European countries pat themselves on the back for their aggressive stance against methyl bromide. But they are not agricultural competitors. Many of our competitors will use it at least until 2015, and probably beyond since about one-half of the developing countries that are parties to the United Nation's Montreal Protocol have fulfilled their responsibility by enacting legislation to ban the compound.
A potential alternative is not truly an alternative if it is not readily available and commercially feasible. USDA has spent more than $100 million over the last 6 years investigating alternatives and really has nothing to show for it. In fact, for years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has had a fast-track policy for registering methyl bromide alternatives, yet none have been registered.
The industry is experimenting widely with potential alternatives, with mixed success. For example, phosphine, effective in treating stored grain, is not a good selection for the mill as the fumigant is highly corrosive and seriously damages the many electrical contacts, motors and programmable controllers in the mill.
High heat treatments have shown some promise in certain facilities. However, industry-wide experiences with heat treatments have shown that many mills do not have the structural integrity to make heat treatments feasible. Those mills are just not tight enough to facilitate raising and holding the temperature at levels high enough to provide good sanitation.
Those technical problems, however, are minor compared with the lost production resulting from the longer time necessary for a heat treatment. For example, the flour mill I work at produces about two million pounds of flour each day. A high heat treatment requires four days to complete, versus two for a methyl bromide fumigation.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The two day's productionfour million poundsthat we did not produce during that longer heat treatment was worth about $500,000. Since the mill runs 24 hours per day, that is revenue we can never recapture by working overtimeit's simply gone. With two treatments per year, I assure you that $1 million in lost revenue each year is a major impact.
Who would bear those costs? Farmers, in the form of lower wheat prices? Consumers, in the form of higher food prices? Or if it's the mill, what more incentive could we have to pick up and move to Mexico, where methyl bromide will be legal until at least 2015?
If U.S. agriculture is going to be expected to make that kind of a sacrifice, then it seems there should be real scientific certainty about the need for that ban. We recommend that Congress commission a panel of science experts from outside of government to review the state of the science and report back as quickly as possible. If the U.S. government is going to force the small company I work for to sacrifice millions of dollars of revenue annually, we'd like to be certain it was necessary.
Absent that certainty, Congress should take action to delay any further reductions pending the development of alternatives. Where no alternatives exist, Congress should create exemptions for critical uses like sanitation for food processing facilities.
Statement of Carl B. Loop
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am Carl Loop, President of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. I also own and operate Loop's Nursery and Greenhouses, where my family and I raise poinsettias and other nursery crops in Jacksonville. I am appearing before you today on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents more than 4.9 million member families in every state and Puerto Rico.
I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the implications of a methyl bromide phase-out, not only as it applies to growers in my home state, but to growers all across the U.S. as well. I must also mention the need for Congress to consider this issue with likely pesticide losses caused by EPA's implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). Crops dependent upon methyl bromide may also lose critical pest control options under the FQPA, which will intensify methyl bromide impacts.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is, without a doubt, one of the most effective crop protection tools ever devised. It is used as a fumigant on more than 100 crops, in forest and ornamental nurseries, and on wood products to control insects, nematodes, weeds and pathogens. It is used as a soil fumigant before crops are planted, after crops are harvested and for quarantine treatments.
When EPA first announced its intention to phase-out methyl bromide use in 1993, it was thought that an alternative to methyl bromide would be found if researchers were forced or pushed to find one. American history is littered with examples of industry miraculously doing the impossible because government gave it no choice. Policy-makers call it technology forcing or pushing. For example, auto makers once said that air bags wouldn't work and that consumers would not pay for them. Today, they brag about their dual and even side-mounted air bags.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case with methyl bromide for several reasons. First, methyl bromide is unique because it is a compound that kills a large number of destructive pests without harming beneficial organisms, all without leaving residues. So far, scientists have been unable to reproduce anything like it. Government can ban certain technologies, but it can't require scientists to invent something. Second, the market for methyl bromide alternatives is small. Finding a new alternative will take millions in research, production and registration costs. There is little economic incentive for companies to look for a replacement. Third, Federal law virtually guarantees that even if an alternative were found, it would not be ready in time for the 2005 phase-out deadline. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to conduct a lengthy, careful review of every new pesticide through the registration process. Even if a promising alternative were found today, registration would likely not produce a legally useable product for several years or more. Plus, the uncertainty of the regulatory process and the possibility that a promising replacement might not be approved is further incentive for companies to avoid looking for a methyl bromide alternative.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMETHYL BROMIDE IMPACTS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and various land grant universities have examined the economic implications of a methyl bromide phaseout. All have concluded that the loss of methyl bromide will hit strawberries, tomatoes and peppers hardest. Because California and Florida produce a majority of the U.S. production of these commodities, the loss of methyl bromide will hit Florida and California especially hard.
According to USDA, Florida accounts for about 3 percent of pre-plant methyl bromide use in the United States. Florida fresh market tomatoes and peppers account for about 33 percent of the pre-plant methyl bromide use in the U. S and about 88 percent of the pre-plant methyl bromide use in Florida. Strawberries account for an additional 8 percent of pre-plant methyl bromide use in Florida. *Methyl Bromide Alternatives*, United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Program.
Florida produces approximately 45 percent of all the fresh tomatoes consumed in the U.S. In 199798, Florida produced 1.4 billion pounds of fresh tomatoes, valued in excess of $473 million, on 40,000 acres. This acreage has dropped approximately 40 percent from a high of 62,500 acres planted in 198889, largely due to competition from Mexico. In 1988, Mexican fresh tomatoes accounted for 17 percent of total U.S. tomato consumption. In 1997, 37 percent of the fresh tomatoes Americans consumed came from Mexico. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Fresh Market Tomato Briefing Room.
In fact, it appears that Mexico has planted at least one additional acre of tomatoes for every acre Florida has not planted over this period. As a result, Mexico now exports more fresh tomatoes into the U.S. than Florida produces in total. Because Mexico will not phase out methyl bromide use until 2015, the loss of methyl bromide will increase this trend.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Roughly 25 percent of direct expenses to produce a tomato crop are invested in pesticides and pesticide application costs. Methyl bromide in combination with chloropicrin is applied to more than 93 percent of Florida's tomato acreage. The loss of methyl bromide means that grower costs will rise even more, meaning that it is highly unlikely that Florida will be able to produce tomatoes cost-effectively without methyl bromide as a pest management tactic. The Florida tomato industry is already under intense economic pressure. The loss of methyl bromide will mean more acres for Mexico and no net environmental gain since Mexico will produce tomatoes on land fumigated with methyl bromide.
The situation for strawberries is similar. Over 99 percent of Florida's strawberry acreage is fumigated with methyl bromide. Production costs average $15,400 per acre. The loss of methyl bromide without an effective and economical alternative makes it unlikely that strawberry growers will be able to compete with Mexico. California strawberry growers fare far worse and can expect a loss of 1520 percent in producer revenue without methyl bromide. *Economic Implications of the Methyl Bromide Phaseout,* United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, February 2000.
Again, Mexico stands to gain from our regulatory efforts, which might be worth it if we could demonstrate some environmental improvement. But since Mexico will produce strawberries on land fumigated with methyl bromide, there are no environmental gains - only grower impacts.
The University of Florida has also examined this issue and completed an economic analysis of the impacts of a methyl bromide ban on the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry last fall. *Sustainable Impacts for a Seamless Transition in the U.S. Vegetable Industry,* John J. VanSickle, Charlene Brewster and Thomas H. Spreen, University of Florida, November 1999.
Florida and California are the big losers, with each state losing $218 million in lost producer revenue from a methyl bromide ban. Under this scenario, tomato production will cease in Dade and Palm Beach counties in Florida and shift to Mexico and southwest Florida. Mexico increases its producer revenue by up to $135 million.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMETHYL BROMIDE ALTERNATIVES
There has been a lot of activity surrounding the effort to find an alternative to methyl bromide in order to mitigate these impacts. To begin the process of finding a methyl bromide alternative, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) formed the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC). In a report issued in 1998, MBTOC says that ''alternatives have been identified for virtually all uses of methyl bromide, and many of them are in use in different places around the world.'' *Protecting the Ozone Layer,* Volume 6, United Nations Environment Programme Industry and Environment, 1998.
The U.S. EPA agrees and says the basically the same thing''similar pest control can be achieved with a combination of alternatives, materials, methods, and application practices.'' While Farm Bureau agrees that there are good replacements for methyl bromide for certain uses, as the MBTOC and EPA suggest, most of the replacements are either too costly, far less effective, or impractical to implement on farms. And for many other uses, there still aren't any effective replacements for methyl bromide. I would like to discuss with you two examples that have been identified as alternatives, but really aren't.
To demonstrate its belief that effective methyl bromide replacements exist, EPA has published a periodic list of case studies to demonstrate ''the fact that materials do exist which can manage pests where methyl bromide is now used.'' ''Alternatives to Methyl Bromide - Ten Case Studies'', U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, July 1995.
In 1995, EPA listed heat sterilization (steam) as its top alternative. Ibid.
While heat sterilization does provide effective control for some pests now controlled by methyl bromide, it does so at a snail's pace while consuming enormous amounts of energy, water and money. This is a technology that can not be practically implemented on farms. Current heat sterilization technology consists of a 25 million BTU heat exchanger capable of heating 250 to 300 gallons of water per minute to 200230 degrees. Hot or boiling water produced by the heat exchanger is injected into the soil at a depth of up to 12 inches. A 6-foot wide unit is pulled through a field by a tractor at a speed of 0.1789 mph. With this size unit and at those speeds, treatment of a 50-acre strawberry field would take 16 days of 24-hour operation. Worse yet, this technology uses up to 70,000 gallons of water and 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel per acre. Treating a 50-acre field would therefore consume 3.5 million gallons of water and 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel. And heat sterilization doesn't kill anything else other than nematodes. More pesticides are needed for insect, weed and disease control. While heat sterilization looked promising in 1995, EPA and MBTOC have now moved it off the list of effective alternatives.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Composting and the addition of manure, biosolids, broccoli mulch and other organic materials also appear to have some promise at controlling a wide range of soil pests. For this reason, it is being touted as an effective replacement. Again, composting is an alternative that cannot be practically implemented on farms. Research by both USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the University of Florida has shown similar marketable yields for pepper and tomatoes by replacing methyl bromide with solarization and the addition of a number of soil amendments including yard waste, poultry manure and biosolids. J.W. Noling, University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, *Plant Resistance and Soil Amendments in Florida Tomato and Pepper,* paper submitted at the 1999 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions.
In fact, some of these combinations produce higher marketable yields than methyl bromide-treated plots under certain conditions. D.O. Chellemi, M.E. Kannwischer-Mitchell, E.N. Rosskopf, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Horticultural Research Laboratory, Ft. Pierce, Florida, *Impact of Soil Disinfestation Practices on Plant Health, paper submitted at the 1999 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions.
Unfortunately, in some test plots nematode populations actually increased, resulting in lower marketable yields. However, to achieve these results, soil amendments had to be added at the rate of up to 60 tons/acre. While this type of system might work on small acre plots, implementing this on a widespread basis will be impossible. Applying soil amendments to Florida's 40,000 acres of tomatoes at 60 tons/acre means 2.4 million tons are needed to cover all of Florida's tomato land. A fully loaded truck can transport 20 tons. Therefore, 120,000 truckloads would be needed for Florida's tomato acres. A 1,000-acre farm will need 3,000 truckloads annually. Costs for these types of soil amendments, including delivery, are conservatively estimated at $10/ton. Costs will be much higher if yard wastes must be hauled from either Ft. Myers or the Miami area. Costs for a 1,000-acre farm would equal $600,000 annually.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The MBTOC/EPA list also consists of the following on-chemical treatments that they say offer promise, but also come with limitations which limit their use and applicability for commercial agriculture. These alternatives include:
Crop rotation: Rotating crops to break up insect, disease and weed pressure has been an accepted and effective practice for centuries. While crop rotation is somewhat effective, it is not economically feasible for a grower of a high-value commodity (i.e. tomatoes, strawberries) to rotate to a crop (i.e. rye) that provides low or negative grower returns.
Flooding: Florida research S.D. Nelson, S.J. Locascio, L.H. Allen, Jr., D.W. Dickson, and D.J. Mitchell, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Crop Genetics and Environmental Research Unit, Gainesville, FL. Departments of Horticultural Sciences, Entomology and Nematology, and Plant Pathology, University of Florida - Gainesville. *Soil Flooding and Chemical Alternatives to Methyl Bromide in Tomato Production,* paper submitted at the 1999 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions.
indicates that soil flooding actually increases weed pressure (nutsedge) and decreases marketable yields in tomato trials. Plus, due to water restrictions in California and desert regions around the world, soil flooding cannot be considered a viable option.
Soil-less culture: The use of soil-less media have proven effective on small scale plots in greenhouses, but are not economically feasible or practical for large acreages.
Cover crops: Planting a two or three year cover crop before planting a crop dependent on methyl bromide (i.e. strawberry) is effective, but provides negative grower returns.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Resistant varieties: Many of these new resistant varieties include genetically modified plants, which are promising, but may meet with significant consumer resistance.
Solarization: Solarization means clear plastic is laid on the soil to heat the soil to temperatures high enough to kill pests. Unfortunately, solarization only works in areas where the sun shines for long periods uninterrupted by clouds and where land can be left fallow for up to three months. Very few areas in the U.S. meet these criteria. While Florida is known as the sunshine state, we almost always have some cloud cover, which makes this technology ineffective. Plus, MBTOC admits that, ''there are some important pests which it does not consistently control.''
There are some good chemical alternatives to methyl bromide that are already available. The most prominent of these alternatives are 1, 3-Dichloropropene (Telone), chloropicrin and metam-sodium. In fact, Telone when combined with chloropicrin and applied with drop irrigation under gas impermeable plastic tarps appears to be a viable alternative in both California and Florida. Unfortunately, Telone faces regulatory problems of its own. California regulations on Telone prevent its application within 300 feet of any inhabited structure. Florida is considering regulatory restrictions of its own. Chloropicrin also faces restrictions which may limit its use and effectiveness as a methyl bromide alternative. Plus, the Telone/chloropicrin combination increases preharvest costs by $653 per acre, resulting in California losing 10 percent of its strawberry market share to Mexico.
One of the problems encountered by researchers working on methyl bromide alternatives has been transferring technologies from the lab into commercial application. For example, insects and nematodes raised in laboratory conditions do not react the same as feral insects. Also, some methyl bromide alternatives work well in the lab, but perform poorly in the field when temperature fluctuations, unusual rainfall, wind and other weather conditions affect the performance of alternatives. In the laboratory, conditions can be very closely monitored and controlled. Researchers have learned that some methyl bromide alternatives require specific and complicated steps and techniques in order to be effective. That same level of control is usually not available in large-scale, commercial trials. As a result, technologies that looked promising in the lab haven't always transferred well when brought into the real world.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMITIGATING AGRICULTURAL IMPACTS
While we are disappointed that effective replacements for many uses and crops are still not available, Farm Bureau believes that USDA and EPA are taking the right approach toward finding a methyl bromide alternative. USDA's efforts to find an alternative, primarily through its Agricultural Research Service (ARS), have been right on target. They have developed a proactive action plan and are doing their best to look at every promising alternative. They have organized a specific ARS National Program Methyl Bromide Alternatives National Program, USDA/ARS.
to address the needs created by the methyl bromide phaseout. Clearly, more research funds would be extremely helpful, but USDA has done a good job of looking under every rock and using available resources to find a potential solution. EPA is also doing a good job of expediting new technologies through the registration process by moving methyl bromide alternatives to the front of the registration queue, as the FQPA requires. Also, USDA and EPA have worked well together to not only look at promising alternatives developed in the U.S., but throughout the world as well. Since 1994, USDA and EPA have cosponsored the Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions to bring in agricultural experts from all over the world to look at research projects, programs and results in other countries. This year's conference will be held in Orlando in November. This is precisely the type of collaborative effort that is needed to address this very serious problem.
Substitution of a single alternative chemical fumigant for methyl bromide is unlikely. An array of alternative control measures will be required to substitute for the many essential uses of methyl bromide. Such measures include combinations of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides; possible replacement fumigants for some applications; and non-chemical alternatives, including cultural changes in cropping systems, development of resistant crops, biological control, and integrated pest management to prevent buildup of nematodes, weeds and other pests. We're not there yet.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is clear that unless viable alternatives to methyl bromide are found, U.S. agriculture will be at a competitive disadvantage in domestic and international markets. Developing countries will receive up to a 10-year grace period for the use of methyl bromide after the 2005 ban for the U.S. and other developed countries. U.S. farmers are already having difficulty competing with developing countries. If practical and effective alternatives to methyl bromide are not identified, registered and made available to growers soon, the competitive position of U.S. farmers will be further degraded. And, as mentioned previously, growers in developing countries will continue to use methyl bromide.
In closing, the sand in the hourglass continues to trickle down in anticipation of the 2005 phase-out date. Farmers need more time to find effective alternatives. As such, Farm Bureau policy supports an extension of the phase-out date until viable alternatives are found. No one is served by where we are now - not the environment, not consumers and clearly not U.S. growers. For these reasons, we strongly encourage Congress to consider extending the phase-out date until effective and economical replacements can be found for critical methyl bromide uses.
Thank you for the opportunity to offer our comments on this extremely important issue.
Testimony of Jim Culbertson
Dear Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Jim Culbertson, and I am Executive Manager of the California Cherry Export Association representing the growers of California cherries.
As manager of the California Cherry Export Association, I have oversight and direct contact with the use of methyl bromide as a pre-shipment fumigant for cherries exported to Japan, Australia, and South Korea. These treatments are a requirement by the governments of these countries to satisfy quarantine concerns of the listed countries. California cherry producers gained access to the Japan market in 1987 with the agreement of a quarantine work plan requiring the post harvest use of methyl bromide in fumigation chambers. In the following years, California has been extremely successful in the Japanese market, with total shipments from 19872000 equaling 9,171,000. The value of these sales, which represents approximately 30 percent of the total production, figures to be $321,000,000 during that period. Japan like most countries, takes their quarantine requirement very seriously, and would most likely close their border to California, Oregon, and Washington cherries without the use of methyl bromide.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I don't believe that economic gain is a justification for environmental tradeoff. I do believe that proper science and real environmental harm should rule the day. In the case of considerations for the banning of methyl bromide, I feel we long ago lost sight of the forest for the trees. Ongoing research into the effects of methyl bromide on the ozone layer have continued over the years to move ever closer to an understanding that perhaps methyl bromide is present in the atmosphere in an equilibrium state with a constant concentration. Well beyond the low percentage contributions of agricultural methyl bromide use, are sources of methyl bromide with much greater quantity. The unfortunate turn of events with the Los Alamos fire is a prime example of an extremely large release of methyl bromide as a known by-product of the large scale burning of biomass material. Yet we continue to concentrate our regulatory efforts on a minute portion of the methyl bromide equation that carries with it a great loss for agriculture.
While methyl bromide has been placed in the position of public enemy number 1 by the radical environmental community, we have lost sight of the fact that this may truly be a silver bullet compound. The environment of crop production is not a static world, but is in a constant state of evolution. Diseases and pests that effect the ability to produce crops have their own will to live and continue to mutate in order to maintain their longevity. The fact that we never achieve eradication of the pests is evidence enough of the ability of all forms of life to remain. While chemicals come and go based on mutations and resistance designed into the natural order of nature, methyl bromide has remained as a silver bullet in the economic control of many pest and diseases, weathering the tide of pest evolution. The mere fact that an effective alternative to methyl bromide has not been found speaks volumes about its role in today's modern agriculture.
We live in the age of a global economy. The cherry industry stands as a prime benefactor from the modern global trade. The global economy when left unchecked can have a serious and perhaps irrivesible effect on production agriculture and the natural balance. Quarantine restrictions is most cases have been put in place for very justifiable reasons. Global trade means the potential for rapid distribution of disease and pests, if left unchecked. Methyl bromide is a corner stone material for use in the prevention of unwanted distribution of foreign pests and diseases to any country or port of call. What are we thinking about when, during the time of record global shipments from all corners of the world, we consider a ban of the best quarantine material science has to offer.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have seen the regulatory failures of the past, with knee jerk reactions to non-concluded science. As a 12-year-old boy, I remember the recall of Gatorade, then a new sport beverage over the issue of cyclamates. Bold headlines in the paper announced the need to ban this threat to society. There are no headlines on page 63, when many years later it is determined that low and behold the product is safe. The sky is not falling, and agricultural methyl bromide is not the cause of the ozone hole.
Current National and International regulations have placed the producer of agricultural products in the United States at a competitive disadvantage. While we must work within the high cost, high standard of living economy that the United States enjoys, our ability to year in and year out compete in the global agricultural arena are based on our technology and advanced methods. The unlevel playing field demonstrated by the application of methyl bromide regulation is a slap in the face to American agriculture. We are the world leaders in environmental control and agriculture due to our wise use of technology. We can not allow our hands to be tied behind our backs, and expect a fair global fight in world food and fiber production.
In closing, let me say that cherries as well as many other specialty crops depend heavily upon materials to help maintain quality and an economic future. We will be unable to say we have the safest food supply in the world, if in the future our supplies are sorced overseas. Under that type of scenario we lose all control, and become dependent on foreign regulations to protect us as a society. This is counter to the efforts to drive public policy towards safer foods and it makes no sense for America. All we ask for is a policy based on sound science and a level playing field for which to compete in the global economy.