SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCREVIEW OF THE PHASEOUT OF METHYL BROMIDE
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 1998
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource
Conservation, and Research,
Committee on Agriculture,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:03 p.m. in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Larry Combest (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Barrett, Doolittle, Pombo, Smith of Michigan, Everett, Lucas, Chambliss, Moran, Cooksey, Smith of Oregon [ex officio], Dooley, Brown of California, Stabenow, Peterson, Clayton, Minge, Pomeroy, Baldacci, Berry, and Goode.
Also present: Representatives Thomas, Herger, and Miller of Florida.
Staff present: Paul Unger, majority staff director; Russell Laird, subcommittee staff director; John Goldberg, professional staff; Wanda Worsham, clerk; Danelle Farmer, minority staff consultant, and Keith Menchey, science fellow.
Mr. COMBEST. The hearing will come to order.
The Chair would recognize the chairman of the full committee for a statement that he might wish to make.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT F. (BOB) SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and good afternoon to everyone. Let me thank you, first of all, for holding this very important hearing on methyl bromide. And I want to also thank the witnesses who have taken their time to prepare testimony and to be here today for this hearing.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is a highly-effective fumigant used to control a broad spectrum of pests on more than 100 crops in the United States. Methyl bromide is also used for commodity and quarantine treatment and structural fumigation.
In the Pacific Northwest, exports are crucial to the viability of our agriculture. Many countries, including Japan, Korea, and Australia, specifically require methyl bromide fumigation for our fruit and vegetable exports.
In 1991, when methyl bromide was classified as a class 1 ozone-depleting substance, EPA assured us in the strongest terms that alternatives would be found and that agriculture would not be harmed. It is 7 years later, and there are no practical alternatives in sight. It is unacceptable and preposterous that we will take this important protectant from our farmers while the rest of the world will continue to use it. Under this disparity, U.S. farmers are at a competitive disadvantage. Without viable alternatives, the loss of methyl bromide will devastate domestic and international trade.
When the administration came back from its latest negotiations which provided even harsher restrictions, it indicated that it would submit legislation that would conform the Clean Air Act and would address differences in phaseout times and exemptions for trade. To date, no legislation to erase restrictions for farmers has been supported, submitted, or prepared for submission by the administration. It is unacceptable that our farmers are facing the total elimination of methyl bromide use in only 2 years and the administration continues to do nothing. This situation cannot, and will not, be tolerated.
Mr. Chairman, again, this is a very important issue for us and for United States farmers and I look forward to the discussion and the testimony today.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CALVIN M. DOOLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding this hearing today on the important subject of methyl bromide. As a walnut farmer I know first hand the important role that methyl bromide plays in agriculture today. Methyl bromide is used for a variety of agricultural uses, including soil fumigation, pest and disease control, post-harvest use, structural use, and quarantine and preshipment of agricultural commodities.
Under the provisions of the Clean Air Act, the methyl bromide will be prohibited after January 1, 2001. In addition, the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement on ozone-depleting products, requires a phaseout in developed nations of methyl bromide by 2005, and provides for interim reductions in the use over that period beginning in 1999. At the same time, developing countries are permitted to use methyl bromide until 2015.
As one who has followed this issue for many years, I want to recognize the improvements that were made in the last round of negotiations on the Montreal Protocol. Because for the first time, we had developing nations being required to follow a full phaseout plan, similar to the developed nations. Unfortunately, the current schedule puts developed nations, such as the United States, at a severe economic disadvantage for 10 years. In addition, unless we make reforms to the Clean Air Act, U.S. farmers are going to be at a competitive disadvantage starting in 2001, a full 4 or 5 years before the phaseout in other developed countries on the use of methyl bromide.
While the Agriculture Committee does not have jurisdiction over this particular issue, I believe that it is important for us to work with our colleagues in the Commerce Committee to ensure that U.S. farmers are not placed at this competitive disadvantage in 2001 because of the Clean Air Act. And I'm pleased that Mr. Miller is here who is doing some work and has legislation to address that issue.
I believe that the administration stands ready to work with us on this point and I would like to submit for the record a letter that I received from Katie McGinty, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, in September 1997, stating the administration's willingness to address the discrepancy between U.S. law and the international agreement.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am also interested in hearing from the various people who are going to be testifying today. I think they will bring up some of the work that is being done on alternatives which is important and we also have a chance, I think, to further understand the administration's commitment to dealing with the Clean Air Act.
Mr. Chairman, methyl bromide is a critical tool to my constituents who farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California. I believe that this hearing we are holding today is vitally important to their ability to remain competitive into the 21st century.
Mr. COMBEST. Without objection, the gentleman's additional information will be entered into the record.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY COMBEST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. COMBEST. I want to thank Mr. Dooley and Chairman Smith for their keen interest in this subject and for their encouragement to holding this hearing. Today we intend to examine any detrimental effects resulting from the implementation of portions of the Clean Air Act which will require phaseout of the use of methyl bromide in the United States by the year 2001.
The 1990 Clean Air Act requires substances with ozone-depleting potential, as defined by the Montreal Protocol, to be phased out from production and use in the United States. While the United States will be required to stop using methyl bromide in 3 short years, the European Union and Japan will not be required to complete their phaseout until the year 2005. Developing countries like China, India, Mexico, and Brazil will not have to complete their phaseouts until 2015.
I have two fundamental concerns about this. First, we have no proven cost-effective substitute for methyl bromide. Second, without a proven alternative, I am concerned that American producers and merchants will be put at an unfair disadvantage. Methyl bromide is an essential tool for many aspects of our modern agricultural industry. In addition to large numbers of farmers and merchants who will be affected by the loss of this product, consumers will also be affected by the higher prices they will be forced to pay at their local market.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The seriousness of this situation, and the interest in this issue, has been made very evident by the large number of groups who have expressed an interest in this issue and the fact that we have three Members of Congress who had requested to testify here today.
If there are any members who have prepared staements, they may submit them at this point in the record.
[The prepared statements of members follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. NICK SMITH
I would like to thank the chairman for holding this important hearing on phasing out methyl bromide. I would also like to thank the witnesses for their testimony and I look forward to hearing from them today.
The current phaseout of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act and its enforcement through the Montreal Protocol will cause serious economic disruption to many segments of Michigan agriculture. It will cause economic losses to communities, a loss of jobs within the agricultural sector, and will hamper American agriculture's international competitiveness.
Michigan and American farmers should have access to the same tools as their international competitors. We need to implement controls on methyl bromide in the United States which are no more stringent than required of any other country under the Montreal Protocol.
Today there is no single economically viable alternative to methyl bromide. There needs to be more aggressive research to find other options on part of the USDA and there needs to be greater cooperation on the part of EPA to make sure any phaseout is gradual and fair.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE E. BROWN, JR.
In preparation for this hearing, I reviewed some of the old hearing records of this committee during the time that the soil fumigant EDB was canceled. In 1984 as chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture I held an oversight hearing on EPA's decision to cancel the soil fumigant, ethylene dibromide (EDB). In my opening statement at the May 9, 1984 hearing I noted with regard to EDB's uses as a soil fumigant that:
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ''. . . our knowledge about soil pest control is inadequate, and alternatives in this [soil fumigation] use are the weakest.
Farmers in California now have only two major chemical alternatives available to replace EDB on the farm. One of these, methyl bromide, is under close scrutiny by EPA. Our biological and cultural pest control approaches are not sufficiently developed to put an integrated pest management [IPM] program in place. We have much more work to do in the area of soil biology if we are to develop lasting alternatives for EDB in this area.''
''I hope that this hearing will provide a chance to rationally examine the aftermath of the cancellation of EDB. America's farmers and consumers need to be assured that the alternatives exist to prevent another EDB scare.''
A number of witnesses testified as to the research that was needed to find viable alternatives to EDB's use and a number of them noted that one of the likely replacements for EDB, methyl bromide, was likely to have health or environmental problems that could eventually lead to its phaseout. When EPA's Science Advisory Panel reviewed the Agency's cancellation decision on EDB in 1984, they noted the lack of knowledge concerning the health and environmental effects of the alternative nematocides and grain fumigants, methyl bromide and Telone. We now know that both of these replacements do have significant health and environmental concerns associated with their use.
Fifteen years ago, the Agricultural Research Service representative testified about the research underway at ARS to find alternatives for EDB. I am at a loss to understand how the research and extension programs at USDA could have failed so miserably to recognize that this day was coming and to prepare our farmers for it. USDA's testimony reads much the same today as it did 15 years ago and as the response I received last year to an inquiry about the methyl bromide research program sent to the Department by myself and other Members. It does not appear to me that resources have been properly targeted to address the most significant problems or that sufficient strategies for testing or transferring new technologies to growers have been developed and implemented by USDA. How many more ''cancellation crises'' must be experienced by the agricultural community before USDA addresses the perennial problem of near-sightedness and tunnel vision that characterizes its research and extension programs?
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Well, 15 years later we are back where we started with the search for alternatives to a soil fumigant: this time methyl bromide. This is a sorry state of affairs for all of us, but particularly for the farmers that are now facedonce againwith the need to find alternatives to soil fumigation. I fear that we will hear today what we heard 15 years ago about EDB cancellation: about the devastating economic impacts that will result from the loss of methyl bromide use, the lack of available alternatives, and the paucity of knowledge about soil biology needed to develop, test, and deploy IPM and alternative pest management systems. We need to break this cycle of ''transition through crisis.''
We have an international agreement to phaseout methyl bromide use by 2005. Under the Clean Air Act, we are supposed to accomplish this phaseout by 2001. Much time and effort has been spent debating the phaseout date and the possible extension of it. Many of the groups and individuals that have met with me on this topic have discussed the merits and problems associated with this phaseout date. However, I have heard very little debate and discussion about how we are going to make the transition and how we are going to find, test, and deploy alternatives to methyl bromide. I am having a difficult time determining how an extension of the phaseout deadline for 4 years would be of much help in making the transition from methyl bromide use to other management practices if we haven't examined the reasons why we cannot meet the current deadline 15 years after recognizing the pattern of fumigant cancellation and replacement that began with DBCP. Growers need a permanent solution to this problem, not a temporary one.
I hope the witnesses appearing before the committee today will have some constructive suggestions about how we move the research, development, testing and deployment of pest management decisions beyond the current narrow, crisis-driven approach that is determined by product cancellation decisions to one that allows for continued research and development of the next generation of pest management products and practices before such crises arise. As the implementation of the new pesticide law goes forward we will have to deal with other difficult decisions such as this one. We cannot continue to wait until the 11th hour to develop better, safer, cost-effective pest management systems. Growers face a number of risks to their crops that they cannot fully anticipate or control. The availability of economically viable, effective pest management tools should not be one of them. Farmers and consumers deserve better and we should do all we can to facilitate smooth transitions to safer pest management.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GARY A. CONDIT
I want to thank the chairman and the committee for holding this important hearing. Let me say that the issue of phasing out of methyl bromide use and its impact on agriculture should be one of the top issues this committee address for the remainder of the year. The impact of this agreement will be devastating to thousands of farmers all of across this country and should seriously debated by this Congress.
Our challenge here as Members of Congress is to create a reasonable balance between legitimate concerns about methyl bromide's role in ozone depletion and agriculture's need for this essential pest control tool.
The search for methyl bromide alternatives has been under way for many yearswell before scientists first suspected methyl bromide's role in ozone depletion. Tens of millions of private and public dollars have been spent attempting to identify safe and cost effective alternatives. Some of this research has focused on possible use of well-known pest control substances and techniques. Some have looked at new approaches. Where growers and others can use other substances and techniques, they do so. My concern is with the many current methyl bromide uses where nothing else meets the requirements of growers, food processors and Government regulators.
The loss of methyl bromide without viable alternatives to replace its current uses would severely hamper the global competitiveness of many sectors of U.S. agriculture. To maintain this competitiveness, it is therefore crucial that developing countries be held to the same standard as developed nations in regard to the use of methyl bromide. While this may seem unreasonable to some, this would be consistent with the administration's policy regarding the Kyoto Agreement on global warming.
I would be remiss without mentioning Congressman Dan Miller's legislation H.R. 2609. Congressman Miller has done yeoman's work on H.R. 2609 and deserves much of the credit for keeping this issue active during the 105th Congress. H.R. 2609 would require that methyl bromide could not be banned for use by the United States unless the U.S. Department of Agriculture certified that there were proven and cost-effective alternatives for the product. Many of the so-called ''alternatives'' that are currently being advocated would not meet the criteria of this legislation because they are not proven to be reliable for all crops and they are also not cost-effective. More importantly, these alternatives have not proven to be practical when applied in the farming community. In addition, H.R. 2609 tries to level the playing field around the world in the use of this product by making all phasing out requirements parallel with each other.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We must understand the great anxiety in the agricultural community about the current prospects of not finding an alternative for methyl bromide and the desire to look for legislative solutions to this problem. Any course this Congress and the administration takes, must insure we do not place U.S. agriculture at a competitive disadvantage with foreign agriculture competitors and that the use of methyl bromide remain available on an equal basis throughout the world. Any other course makes no sense environmentally or economically and it is fundamentally unfair to America's agricultural commune and consumers.
Thank you for the time Mr. Chairman and thank you for allowing me to participate in this hearing.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SAM FARR
Mr. Chairman and Mr. Dooley, I want to thank you for holding this hearing today. Methyl bromide, probably more than any other chemical used in agriculture has its share of proponents and opponents. This issue is a front page issue in my district witnessed by the fact that I have two constituents presenting testimony: Dave Riggs, chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition will be testifying today and Christine Cattin Coke has submitted her testimony for the record.
I first want to welcome my constituent who will be testifying today. Dave Riggs is chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition, but he also wears another hat as president of the California Strawberry Commission. As president, Dave represents approximately 650 growers, shippers and processors producing over a billion pounds of fruit annually.
Christine Cattin Coke farms 300 acres of organic vegetables and strawberries and attains yields comparable to crops grown with methyl bromide using crop rotation and biointegrated management.
The development and implementation of alternatives to replace methyl bromide is vital to protecting the livelihood of our agricultural industry, as well as protecting our environment. This purpose of this hearing is two-fold: to help us to gain valuable insight to possible alternatives; and, to understand that our agriculture community could face market disruptions if economically and technically viable alternatives are not available as we face interim reductions under the Montreal Protocol that will culminate with the phaseout of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act in 2001.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is clear that the use of methyl bromide poses a threat to the ozone layer. Faced with this threat, the global community has no choice but to work toward a complete global phaseout of methyl bromide. I am committed to the timely phaseout of methyl bromide for both developed and developing countries.
The development and commercialization of viable alternatives to methyl bromide are the keys to ensuring that central coast agriculture will be able to transition away from methyl bromide in a way that protects rural jobs and ensures that coastal agriculture remains an economically viable land use. I strongly support research efforts to find commercially viable alternatives to the uses of methyl bromide.
I am pleased that we have finally passed the research title of the farm bill. The legislation that began in this subcommittee contained two initiatives I authored. The first establishes competitive grants for high priority in-field research in the form of extension grants that will expedite the development of alternatives for methyl bromide. The second is a fundamental change in the direction research is conducted in the Agricultural Research Service. There has been an increase in the amount of funding for methyl bromide alternatives research since the U.S. inclusion in the Montreal Protocol Summit. Since coming to Congress I have helped secure almost $60 million for the USDA to support research into alternatives. However, there has not been a proportionate increase in research for ''in field'' study. It is important that the research be conducted in real field conditions where the alternatives will be used in order to expedite commercial use of the alternatives.
I want to phaseout the use of methyl bromide. But I also believe that there is a way to make this phaseout sensitive to my region's $2.5 billion per year agricultural economy and related land use issues, and yet not diminish the environmental protections for which we have labored so long. I will continue to seek out our best scientific minds to provide us with the earliest and most environmentally sound alternatives for the numerous uses of methyl bromide.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE P. RADANOVICH
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to submit testimony during this oversight hearing on the phaseout of methyl bromide. I appreciate you holding a hearing on this very important issue.
As a representative from the Central Valley of California whose district includes the two largest agricultural producing counties in the nation, I am concerned about the enormous consequences our nation would face with a phaseout of methyl bromide while no viable alternative to replace it exists. Certain crops would encounter significant losses without methyl bromide due to the simple fact that it is the only substance that effectively fumigates soil. In addition, methyl bromide is necessary for use in postharvest treatment of non-perishables and perishables in storage areas and quarantine purposes. This is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2609, which delays the phaseout of methyl bromide until the year 2015. Unless a reliable, efficient replacement is found, I know hard-working farmers are in dire need of this legislation.
Under the Montreal Protocol, the United States has until 2005 to phaseout methyl bromide. This is required of all industrialized countries, while developing countries have until 2015 to phaseout methyl bromide. However, the Clean Air Act designated methyl bromide as an ozone depleting substance and the product, in turn, is now set to be eliminated by 2001 in the United States.
Like most Americans, I believe in the need to maintain standards for our nation to ensure clean air. At the same time, it is unwise for our country to demand a 2001 phaseout while developing countries have until 2015 under the Montreal Protocol. Agricultural products exported from the United States will be at a significant disadvantage in foreign markets without methyl bromide because other countries will continue to use it. Current Federal law requires that methyl bromide be used on various imported products, including fruits, vegetables, lumber and paper pulp. Furthermore, many countries will not accept such items unless they are treated with methyl bromide.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Along these lines, port authorities in the United States use methyl bromide to fumigate products from foreign countries to eliminate non-indigenous species. Without methyl bromide, crops throughout the country would be at risk for an invasion of pests that do not have any natural predators here in our Nation.
The concerns I have raised are only an overview of the issues my constituents must face in the near future. Citizens' livelihoods and the economy of the United States are both in jeopardy under the current phaseout restrictions. The serious ramifications with the elimination of methyl bromide, which is only eighteen months away, may include higher consumer prices due to immense crop losses. Farming communities, in particular, could experience detrimental economic effects. Certainly, these concerns must be taken into consideration as the 2001 phaseout date nears.
Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to submit testimony. I look forward to working with my colleagues to resolve this very important issue.
STATEMENT OF HON. BOB GRAHAM, A UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research: I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to provide my perspective on the issue before your subcommitteethe progress of the research and development program for alternatives to methyl bromide.
As we are all aware, methyl bromide is a broad spectrum pesticide used in the control of pest insects, nematodes, weeds, pathogens, and rodents. In the U.S., about 27,000 tons (60 million pounds) of methyl bromide are used annually in agriculture, primarily for soil fumigation (87 percent), as well as for commodity and quarantine treatment (8 percent), and structural fumigation (5 percent).
In the United States, strawberries (16 percent of U.S. total) and tomatoes (24 percent of U.S. total) are the crops which require the most methyl bromide, consuming about 6,500 tons annually. Other crops which require this soil fumigant include tobacco, peppers, grapes, and nut and vine crops.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the State of Florida, the vegetable production system has relied almost exclusively on methyl bromide as a pre-plant soil fumigant treatment for over 25 years in the control of soil-borne pest and disease. Methyl bromide plays a critical role in the soil fumigation of key crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. In addition, other crops such as eggplant, cut flowers, caladiums, turf, and ornamentals also continue to depend on methyl bromide for fumigation.
The tomato industry in Florida harvests between 30,000 and 40,000 acres per year, receiving about $381M in cash receipts in 199596. The pepper industry in Florida harvests approximately 20,000 acres per year, receiving about $211 million in cash receipts in 199596. The strawberry industry in Florida harvests about 6,000 acres per year, a crop valued at about $112 million in 199596. Together, these three industries make up about 11 percent of the total cash receipts of the Florida agriculture industry.
In today's competitive atmosphere, the Florida vegetable industry competes closely with Mexico and other Western Hemisphere nations that can often produce similar goods with lower input costs. In this atmosphere of intense competition, small changes in the price of inputs can have a major effect on the viability of an agricultural operation.
It is for this reason that methyl bromide is so critical to Florida agriculture. Mr. Chairman, I commend you and your committee for focusing on the ongoing research to identify alternatives for methyl bromide.
Why is this so critical for Florida? As I have described, without methyl bromide, it is probable that the Florida agriculture industry, as well as the entire domestic agriculture industry, will suffer economic consequences. Without access to methyl bromide or a viable alternative, diseases, weeds, and pests will wreak havoc on Florida agricultural products. Crop yields are likely to falla consequence which would mean economic catastrophe for the Florida vegetable industry. For example, a study completed by the Agricultural Task Force in Hillsborough County, Florida indicated that 1 acre of strawberry production has approximately a $4.8M impact on the local economy over a 50-year period.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC USDA Research Program
My understanding is that there are significant technical challenges associated with methyl bromide alternatives research. I would like to highlight three:
(1) Climate and weather variations may have significant impacts on the effectiveness of alternativesa fact that indicates that it would be appropriate to conduct multiple field scale validations in diverse climatic conditions.
(2) Soil types can have significant impacts on the effectiveness of alternativesa fact that indicates that it would be appropriate to conduct many field scale validations in diverse climatic conditions.
(3) Researchers tell me that it is critical that alternatives be tested over the length of several growing seasons to determine if crop yields can be consistently achieved with alternativesa fact that creates boundaries on the speed with which research can be conducted.
Together, these challenges indicate to me that once a potential alternative is identified, significant plot scale and field scale testing must be performed to address variables such as the length of the growing season and climatic differences.
I understand through my communications with various officials at the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and experts like Dr. Joe Noling of the University of Florida that while potential methyl bromide alternatives are being studied, no viable alternatives have yet been identified and tested to date for critical Florida crops.
With the December 31, 2000 phaseout date for methyl bromide less than 30 months away, this situation has put Florida agriculture in an untenable position. I have initiated an effort in the Senate to work with the U.S. Agricultural Research Service to identify how we can expedite alternative identification.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of the $14.57 million USDA research budget for fiscal year 1998, only $500,000 is dedicated to plot and field scale testing. In early May, Senators Mack, Boxer, Feinstein, and I wrote to Secretary Glickman and expressed our concern that only 3.4 percent of the research budget is dedicated to plot and field scale testing at such a late date in the alternatives identification process. The ARS has indicated that additional, unidentified funds have been spent on plot and field scale testing, but those funds remain unidentified.
In addition to the need for plot and field scale testing, we need better communication with growers. In the next several years, those individuals who depend on methyl bromide for their livelihood will be faced with serious challenges as they select alternative soil fumigation methods for their crops. It is critical that the U.S. Department of Agriculture establish a comprehensive technology transfer/grower communication effort that provides information on alternatives in a practical, straightforward manner.
The challenges associated with methyl bromide alternatives research demand a coordinated, well-developed plan for plot scale and field scale testing that will address each of the variables influencing the viability of alternatives. They demand a program that will provide detailed information in a practical format to individual growers who will be required to make alternatives selection choices in the future. It is not clear to me that any such plans exist at the Department of Agriculture, and I am interested to hear the findings of this committee on that subject.
Methyl Bromide Production Phase-Out Date
The reason we as a nation are facing this issue at all is that methyl bromide has been identified as an ozone-depleting substance and is regulated by both the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Ozone-depleting substances have been found to destroy ozone molecules located in the stratosphere, allowing ultraviolet-B radiation to reach the Earth's surface. Potential consequences include increased incidence of skin cancer, increased incidence of cataract-induced blindness, weakening of human immune systems, impacts to phytoplankton community which forms the base of the oceanic food chain, reduced crop yields due to modifications in plant physiological processes, and others.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is used globally at a rate of about 76,000 tons per year. North American uses the highest amount (43 percent), followed by Europe (24 percent), Asia (24 percent-includes Israel and the Mid-East), with South America and Africa combined using the least (9 percent). EPA statistics indicate that about 50 to 95 percent of the methyl bromide injected in to the soil can eventually enter the atmosphere.
The Montreal Protocol requires production phaseout by developed nations by 2005, and by developing nations by 2015. In the United States, we have adopted a production phaseout date of December 31, 2000. These production phaseout schedules will allow the global community to reduce dependence on a chemical that has been found to destroy the ozone layer, causing harmful effects for the entire planet.
As many of you are aware, some have proposed that we extend the production phaseout date for methyl bromide in the United States. The main reason this discussion continues is that no viable alternatives have been identified to date. As I have discussed, a significant portion of the Florida and the entire domestic agriculture community depends on this chemical to control pests, weeds, and disease to insure adequate crop yields. In today's competitive environment, each input is critical to both the quality of the output and the profit margin of individual growers.
Thus, I have focused my efforts on reforming the research program to insure that all actions are taken in the next 2 years that could possibly lead to progress in the research program. I am pleased that your subcommittee has a similar focus. I look forward to conferring with you in the future to determine the most appropriate course of action on this issue.
Mr. COMBEST. I would ask our fairly aggressive witness list if they would to try to hold their statements to 5 minutes. We would certainly want to give time for each individual to be able to express their concerns and views. But, in order to give members an opportunity to have a discussion and enter in questions, your recognition of the time would certainly be appreciated.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first witness panel are three Members of Congress. The Honorable Wally Herger from California, and the Honorable Dan Miller from Florida, and the Honorable Bill Thomas from California. Mr. Thomas is not yet here, but we'll go ahead and begin. If Mr. Thomas comes in, we'll recognize him at that time. Mr. Herger, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. WALLY HERGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. HERGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I begin, I'd like to ask for your permission to submit for the record a list of questions that I would like to have answered by the various panelists. And I would be forwarding a copy of these questions to those panelists and request their answers be submitted for inclusion on the record at a later date.
Mr. COMBEST. If the gentleman would submit those to the subcommittee, the subcommittee would be happy to submit them and make them a formal part of the record originating at the subcommittee.
Mr. HERGER. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank for this opportunity to testify today regarding the phaseout of methyl bromide.
The continued availability of methyl bromide is critically important to the continued health and competitiveness of United States agriculture. Methyl bromide has been used in agriculture since the 1930's, first, as a fumigant to control pests in the soil before planting; second, to protect stored agricultural commodities; and, third, to treat commodities shipped in international trade.
As a result, methyl bromide is one of the most widely-used chemicals in the United States. Farmers throughout the Nation use methyl bromide on more than 100 different crops to control insects, fungi, nematodes, worms, weeds, pathogens, and rodents. Without timely fumigation, yields for crops such as strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, wheat, and other food supplies will be sharply reduced and our ability to feed the world will be severely impacted. In spite of its importance, the EPA bowed to the pressure of the United Nations and issued a final rule in December of 1993 that phases out methyl bromide in the United States by the year 2001.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unfortunately, we do not an effective and economic alternative that can achieve the same results. In 1994, the United Nations Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee identified alternatives for more than 90 percent of methyl bromide uses. However, substituting these chemicals for methyl bromide could have an unknown, disastrous impact on our Nation's environment. Not only are some threats not addressed, such as fumigating foreign ships known to carry pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, but the combination of more chemicals used in greater amounts could have a severe impact that goes far beyond anything anticipated by continued use of methyl bromide.
In addition, resulting losses in crop yield would have to be made up by increasing the number of acres in agricultural production and would decrease the number of acres available for wilderness, for ecological restoration. A ban on methyl bromide could also result in an uneven playing field on the international trade for U.S. producers. By holding U.S. producers to a stricter standard, the EPA provides an unfair advantage for other nations who will be allowed to continue to use methyl bromide. Many nations, including the United States and Japan, require a number of fruits, grains, and vegetables to be fumigated with methyl bromide before entering their domestic markets. By restricting use of this compound in the United States, domestic producers will be forced out of the international market in many crucial areas.
For example, the greatest beneficiary of a methyl bromide ban in the United States would be the country of Mexico. Under the Montreal Protocol, Mexico would be given more time to phaseout methyl bromide because of its classification as a developing country. Mexico would then increase its use of methyl bromide to fill the market vacated by the United States and would effectively cancel out any gains from a methyl bromide ban in the United States I'm also concerned that the phaseout of methyl bromide will be made in spite of uncertainties surrounding the exact role it plays in ozone depletion.
Serious questions remain about the degree to which methyl bromide actually harms the Earth's ozone layer, especially methyl bromide manufactured for use in agriculture. Research indicates that most methyl bromide occurs naturally; for example, more than 60 percent is emitted by the world's oceans alone, and that a significant percentage used by agriculture never reaches the ozone layer. Additional time is, therefore, needed to allow scientists to study the compound's ozone depletion potential.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman and members, I would therefore encourage this committee to take action on this issue and to, one, allow the continued use of methyl bromide while accelerating research into feasible alternatives and, two, ensure international consistency so U.S. producers can be protected from exotic pests while maintaining competitiveness.
Again, thank you for your attention to this very crucially important issue to California agriculture as well as the U.S. agriculture as a whole.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much, Mr. Herger.
Mr. Thomas, welcome. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM M. THOMAS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. THOMAS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent that my written statement be made a part of the record.
Mr. COMBEST. Without objection.
Mr. THOMAS. I would share with the chairman, that, having served some time in this room, this is actually the first time I have appeared in the committee with Pat Roberts staring back at me. Not in the flesh. He used to stare back a lot in the flesh. This is the first time he's not in the flesh.
Mr. COMBEST. The Chair certainly extends his sympathy. [Laughter.]
Mr. THOMAS. The gentleman obviously served time with the Senator from Kansas as well.
It's not the first time that I've talked about methyl bromide and the phasing out of methyl bromide as well. As a matter of fact, the last time was in front of a Ways and Means subcommittee in which tax code was being used as an attempt to control methyl bromide. The chairman of that subcommittee was the gentleman from New York, Mr. Rangel, and at that time we were able to actually show him what methyl bromide failure to use does to agricultural products.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My belief is that he was persuaded by the presentation of the carrots affected by nematodes. I have those available here. I'm quite sure that it had nothing to do with the additional indicator that other California products, both red and white, would be available to him if he had any interest in pursuing other agricultural products.
I don't believe anybody is necessarily opposed to a mutual disarmament. The problem that I have is, one, there is no reasonable alternative, that's just unfortunate, but it's a fact. So that if the United States begins the process of unilaterally backing off on the use of methyl bromide, others will use it. It isn't that you are going to get a clear, long-term objective accomplished by the United States unilaterally. What will occur, obviously, is that farm products will be damaged, prices will go up, farmers will be hurt, and the United States is doing this to its own farmers in a unilateral way.
I think we need a prudent alternative. I strongly support H.R. 2609, and it is simply a fact of life that one of the major new marketing fresh produce approaches has been the packaging of carrots.
It's just phenomenal how a multimillion dollar business has been developed, almost primarily in my district, of the packaging of small carrots in an immediately edible way. Everyone remembers buying carrots in big bunches with the end on or off and there were various ways you would do it. You know, your parents used to shave and then you said no, that really takes away most of the vitamins, leave them whole, but you'd lug around a foot-long carrot. By packaging them in this way, they have enormously increased consumption, the product is very attractively packaged.
If methyl bromide were not available, it is extremely difficult to figure out how these kinds of carrots could be packaged in any way attractive, although some of them probably could be featured in a creature movie.
The American consumer, frankly, would not be that interested in picking up these kinds of products. The ones that were really ugly I chose not to present, but the fact of the matter is it is a product that needs to be available. It has to be used currently, it is a fact of life. I am sorry that those who represented us internationally, in my opinion, did not fully appreciate or understand the decision that was made. It was a wrong decision. It needs to be changed.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Thomas follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM M. THOMAS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
I thank the chairman and members of this subcommittee for the opportunity to testify on the impact on my farm constituents and the economy of California of this administration's agreement in last year's Montreal Protocol to phaseout methyl bromide, a vital pesticide used by farmers around the world.
Although the administration claims methyl bromide is harmful to the environment, it has agreed to allow most of the world to continue using methyl bromide for almost two more decades. This same administration is telling American farmers they must begin cutting their use next year and stop use entirely in 3 years. The world can use it. We can't. The administration does not seem to care that American farmers rely heavily upon methyl bromide to produce healthy and safe produce for American consumers and for export, and that American farmers compete with foreign producers for these domestic and foreign markets. Under the Montreal Protocol, the administration is handing those markets over to foreign competitors who, under the agreement, can even expand their use of methyl bromide (and their competitiveness) without limit!
Methyl bromide is approved by the FDA and is used by farmers and food processors to kill germs, microscopic worms, and other pests that threaten the safety and health of produce. It is used for soil fumigation, and many food processors and transporters must use methyl bromide to meet stringent safe food laws in the United States and other countries. No affordable and effective alternative exists for methyl bromide despite years of research by the Department of Agriculture and the farm industry.
The deal in Montreal onerously requires developed nations like the United States to eliminate all usage in 7 years while allowing developing nations to continue use for 17 years. Worse still, the administration will force American farmers to unilaterally stop using the pesticide in 4 years, earlier than any of our foreign competitors. The result will be that American consumers must accept more risk of contaminated and unhealthy food, the U.S. Government hands a competitive advantage to foreign producers, and we give foreign governments a food-safety excuse to exclude American produce exports.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ultimately, American farmers will lose crops and domestic market share, foreign farmers will increase sales and market share in United States, and more methyl bromide will go into the atmosphere from foreign countries' increased usage! As one of my farming constituents wrote, ''By imposing a deadline which is far more restrictive than that of any other nation, the United States Government has unilaterally disarmed our farmers of a production tool which is absolutely essential if they are to remain competitive in the agricultural global markets of the 21st century.''
In 1995, agriculture contributed $20 billion to California's economy in addition to the indirect contributions to the economy that those farms support. Without it the California strawberry industry will suffer a 20 to 40 percent crop loss within the first year. Walnuts, cherries, peaches and nectarines, will sustain a loss between $30 and $60 million annually due to the lack of methyl bromide as a pesticide. Overall the revenue losses to California alone will range between $250 million and $350 million annually from lost exports due to the failure to meet requirements of foreign markets. This represents a loss of almost 10,000 full-time jobs in California.
The position we should adopt is simple and fair. American farmers should have the same tools as foreign competitors. H.R. 2609, a bill I cosponsor, will require the administration to implement controls on methyl bromide in the United States which are no more stringent than required of any other party to the Montreal Protocol.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Thomas.
Mr. Miller of Florida, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. DAN MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, and I have a statement I would like to enter into the record also,
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I appreciate your having this hearing and I concur with most of the statements made today because this is an issue that is not a partisan issue. It is a question of, as Mr. Thomas talked about, of fairness. My area of Florida is big in the tomato and citrus business, but the tomato business, in particular. They don't mind competition but it's got to be fair competition and methyl bromide is an issue that could make it very unfair.
I have introduced legislation in the last Congress, in the 104th, and now in the 105th Congress, which now has 72 cosponsors to, with respect to methyl bromide which does one of two things, it either phases it out if the rest of the world essentially phases it out, in particular our agriculture competitors, not just the developed countries, but the developing countries, such as Mexico, for example; or if there is a financially feasible alternative which right now we do not have and I hope the Agriculture Appropriations Committee continues to provide the type of funding that is needed to push as hard as we can to find that financial alternative.
President Clinton gave some support for this position back when he was campaigning in California in 1996. Nothing has happened since then; we are told, well wait until after the Montreal Protocol meeting this pastlast September and then we'll do something. And they were going to try to do something in that meeting in September 1997, and nothing came out of it. So we really need the administration's support on this issue to push it through.
And so, at a meeting of theI'm on Interior Appropriations Subcommitteeand Secretary Glickman was there. I asked Secretary Glickman about the issue and he is very supportive of the issue and very supportive of the idea that we need a legislative solution. That we have to address this through legislation and not just by executive order. So, I think we need to continue pushing on it. We need toas you say, it's in the Commerce Committee and I've talked times with Mr. Bilirakis and Mr. Bliley about it and the main thing right now is trying to get some action out of the administration. And they just seem to be dragging their feet even though they have verbally said, yes, we want to help, we want to help, but we don't see anything coming out of it. So I am glad we're having this chance to have a hearing and I hope we can kind of push the administration to come through with a bipartisan approach that can pass Congress. Thank you.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Miller follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. DAN MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Thank you for the opportunity to make a statement before the subcommittee today. I appreciate the subcommittee's decision to hold a hearing on this important issue.
As you are aware, methyl bromide is scheduled to be phased out in the United States under the Clean Air Act in 2001, despite the fact that we have no alternatives to methyl bromide and the international community will continue to use the substance until as late as 2015. Initially, the administration promised us that they would attempt to rectify this inequity between United States and foreign growers through negotiations of the Montreal Protocol treaty, but the administration failed to convince our agricultural competitors to move up the dates of their phaseout schedule.
We are now faced with a rapidly approaching phaseout date, with no alternative on the horizon, while foreign growers will be given the opportunity to capitalize on the damage to our industry without this essential fumigant and pesticide. It is unfair to expect our farmers to compete in an international marketplace if we take methyl bromide away from them while allowing other nations to continue to use it. This scenario would be economically devastating to those U.S. industries that rely on this product.
Recently I had the opportunity to question Agriculture Secretary Glickman about this issue when he appeared before the Interior Subcommittee on Appropriations. Specifically, I asked him if the administration is willing to commit to rectifying the approaching inequity between U.S. and foreign growers. His answer, and I quote, is as follows: ''As we continue an aggressive program to ensure that farmers have adequate alternatives for production and trade uses, we must also ensure that farmers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by the phaseout of methyl bromide. We support legislative solutions that meet the needs of American farmers and prevent competitive disadvantage, while recognizing that continued progress on the development of effective and economical alternatives is in the best long-term interest of agriculture.''
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am pleased that the Agriculture Secretary stated for the record that the administration realizes we need legislation to address this issue. Earlier this year, I introduced H.R. 2609, a bill which would do exactly what Secretary Glickman is suggesting. My legislation will delay the phaseout of methyl bromide in the United States until all parties of the Montreal Protocol have phased it out, or until the USDA verifies that an effective and affordable alternative to methyl bromide has been discovered. If the USDA and the administration feels confident that alternatives are on the horizon, then they should support H.R. 2609, because it would allow for immediate phaseout of methyl bromide if an alternative is certified.
I would like to thank Representatives Gary Condit, Richard Pombo, and Charles Canady on the Agriculture Committee, whose staff have been working diligently with us on this bill. We currently have 72 cosponsors and we hope to have a companion bill introduced soon in the Senate. Time is expiring for methyl bromide in the United States, and farmers will be left without alternatives a mere 2 years from now if we do not act soon. Again, thank you for your time.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Miller.
Do any members have any questions of our colleagues? Mr. Doolittle.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. I appreciate the testimony of you three gentlemen. Let me just ask Mr. Miller. Do you have me listed as one of your cosponsors on that legislation?
Mr. MILLER. Yes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Good. It's a good bill and it makes no sense for us to disarm ourselves unilaterally while our competition is out there using this substance and getting an advantage because of it and I'm glad we're having the hearing today and I certainly look forward to getting the policy changed.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you. That have been several members of the committee that have been very helpful, including Mr. Condit, Mr. Pombo, Mr. Canady, and so we've had very good support from this committee and so we need to continue pushing for it. Thank you.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COMBEST. Any other members who have questions? Mr. Chambliss.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think it is undisputed that we in Georgia grow the sweetest onion of anybody in the world, and over the last several years we have been in the business of, thanks to the University of Georgia Extension Service, growing what we now know to be the sweetest carrot in the world in Georgia and Mr. Thomas, as my dear friend, I am embarrassed that you would bring something that ugly to this committee meeting. So I encourage all of you shoppers to buy Georgia carrots from now on. [Laughter.]
We grow them much prettier than that.
Mr. THOMAS. Does the gentleman yield?
Mr. CHAMBLISS. I'm afraid to do it, but I guess I will.
Mr. THOMAS. In California the sugar content is inside the carrot. [Laughter.]
You guys do a great job. California carrots and Texas sweet onions. That will be fine.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. I would just make a comment, Mr. Chairman. I think it's unique. We've got Florida and California, and, of course, California grows some of everything in the world and it's unique, I think, with respect to methyl bromide that it's used on so many different products. That the actions of EPA to eliminate the use of this product without coming up with some definite plan to replace that for all of the multitude and variety of products that we all deal with, is just something, I think, is inexcusable and we've got to come up with an alternative
Mr. THOMAS. Will the gentleman yield on that point? You're absolutely right because so many products are topical. This is actually necessary to prepare the soil so it is whatever you put in the soil that gets protected from it and it just runs the gamut of a number of crops. And if you will take a look at the other kinds of vegetables and what they look like when you don't have the ability to prepare the soil to grow. It is simply, obviously, nutritionally many of them are OK, but you certainly can't market them in a way. And if you allow Mexico and others to gain an advantage in the marketplace, we are absolutely crazy, given all of the other competitive advantage those other people have, to take this fairness away, is just absolutely nonsensical.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHAMBLISS. I think that's the exact point that all of us agree with. It takes the fairness and the leveling of the playing field absolutely out of play. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. It's amazing how much the gift ban has to do on the lack of Members' knowledge, but prior to the gentleman from Georgia's arrival, the former chairman of this committee, the last chairman of this committee from Texas, used to park a semitruck right across the street and every Member of Congress received a case of Texas sweets. We'll see if we can arrange that for the gentleman from Georgia.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. If the INS would leave us alone, we could still do that. [Laughter.]
Mr. COMBEST. Actually, it has nothing to do with the INS; it has to do with the gift ban.
Any other members wish to enter this fray?
I appreciate the answers of the gentlemen and, Mr. Herger; if you will submit the questions, they will be submitted, and this subcommittee and the full committee will be very interested in trying to see if there's resolution to this problem.
Mr. THOMAS. I'd be more than willing to leave exhibit A.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you. If the gentleman would take that with him.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Would it be OK, Mr. Chairman, if I submit, Mr. Herger, I would like to submit some questions to Mr. Herger, not on this issue, but on another issue, if that's OK. [Laughter.]
Mr. COMBEST. The gentleman may.
Thank you gentlemen. I'd like to invite our second panel to the table. Mr. Paul Stolpman is the Director for the Office of Atmospheric Programs at the Office of Air and Radiation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is accompanied by Mr. Jim Jones, who is Director of Registration Division, at the Office of Pesticide Programs. And Mr. Keith Pitts is a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, gentlemen, for coming today.
And, Mr. Stolpman, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF PAUL STOLPMAN, DIRECTOR OF ATMOSPHERIC PROGRAMS, OFFICE OF AIR AND RADIATION, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Mr. STOLPMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you on methyl bromide and EPA's efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. As you indicated, I'm joined today by Mr. Jim Jones, the Director of the Registration Division in our Office of Pesticides Program at EPA.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, this protective layer is essential to life on this planet, shielding us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Starting in 1977 when scientists first discovered the link between CFC's in the atmosphere and depletion of the Earth's ozone layer, the United States has led the way in worldwide commitment and action. Since the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, over 160 countries have joined efforts to phaseout ozone-depleting substances while finding effective and safe alternatives to be used in a wide array of applications such as refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, metal and electronic cleaning, foams, and fire suppression. We have made tremendous progress, as evidenced by the worldwide declines in atmospheric chlorine concentration.
Nevertheless, remaining challenges are enormous. Recent data from satellites and balloons have highlighted unusually low levels over the Arctic, following a pattern previously only seen in the Antarctic ozone hole. The National Cancer Institute recently reported that while incidence of all other cancers have declined, the rate of malignant skin cancer in the United States continues to increase. Scientific findings like these underscore the importance of continued vigilance in our fight to save the ozone layer.
Recovery of the ozone layer hinges on international cooperation to continue reductions in the remaining uses of ozone-depleting substances. You have asked me here today to address the methyl bromide phaseout. Methyl bromide is one of the most commonly-used pesticides in the United States and for the past 40 years has been used by American farmers and associated industries for soil fumigation, post-harvest treatment of perishables and nonperishables, and quarantine purposes. Given these diverse applications, we understand concerns within the agriculture community about the eventual methyl bromide phaseout. Indeed, similar concerns were expressed by users of CFC's and other ozone depleters prior to finding acceptable alternatives allowing for their successful phaseout. On a molecule-per-molecule basis, bromine from methyl bromide is 40 to 50 times more destructive to the stratospheric ozone than chlorine from CFC's. And it is regulated under the Clean Air Act because of its strong ozone-depleting potential.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is required under the act to be phased out in the United States by 2001. EPA also regulates methyl bromide as a category 1 pesticide under FIFRA. It is an acute neurotoxin and even in relatively small doses can kill or irreversibly damage major organs like the liver and kidneys. As a result, methyl bromide can only be used by trained and certified applicators using personal protective equipment and other precautions. EPA's work on methyl bromide takes many forms. We have worked with USDA, research institutions, extension agents, and growers around the country in developing alternatives to methyl bromide and moving them out of the laboratory and onto the farm where target pests must be effectively controlled.
As Mr. Pitts, I'm sure, will agree we recognize that there is no single alternative for all of methyl bromide's many uses. But there are today numerous innovative chemical and nonchemical strategies and tools that effectively control many of the pests for which methyl bromide is used. EPA's assistance programs has allocated small grants for on-farm studies to strawberry and tomato growers, the nursery and forestry industries, and fruit growers. EPA has developed an extensive outreach program to inform the agriculture community about available alternatives, and I would like to submit for the record three volumes of case studies that the EPA has funded.
Finally, in 1997, the Office of Pesticides Programs accelerated its registration procedures on methyl bromide alternatives. This past April the agency registered rimsulfuron to replace methyl bromide in weed control on tomatoes. The Pesticides Office also anticipates a final decision on phosphine gas in combination with carbon dioxide in time for the 1999 growing season. Several other promising alternatives are receiving the highest priority in hopes of a final decision in 1999. We strongly support the $16.6 million for research in the fiscal year 1999 budget on methyl bromide alternatives that the President has proposed for USDA's Agricultural Research Service.
We will continue to focus our efforts to ensure that safe and effective substitutes for methyl bromide are developed as quickly as possible. Under the Montreal Protocol, industrialized countries have agreed to a methyl bromide phaseout by 2005, while developing countries must phaseout of methyl bromide by 2015. The current Clean Air Act deadline of 2001 for a methyl bromide phaseout in the United States puts us on a more aggressive time schedule. However, this administration has consistently expressed a willingness to consider bipartisan targeted legislative changes if we approach the 2001 phaseout date, and find that alternatives do not exist for control of key pests. However, we oppose proposals that would more broadly open the Clean Air Act or put the United States out of compliance with the Montreal Protocol.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, Mr. Chairman, we need to ensure the health and well being of our planet and our children. And to do so we remain committed to complying with our domestic and international obligations to control the emissions that deplete the ozone layer. We look forward to working with Congress and to all involved parties to protect the interest of American farmers while meeting these obligations.
Thank you, I'd be happy to respond to any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stolpman appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Stolpman, and without objection, any supporting information that you wish to submit for the record will be certainly accepted.
Mr. Jones, did you have a statement?
Mr. JONES. No, sir.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Pitts, we have actually at least two votes that have been called. If you can do this within about 7 minutes we can go ahead and do this and then come back for questioning?
Mr. PITTS. I'll even try and do it shorter than that.
Mr. COMBEST. OK
Mr. PITTS. I'll truncate the written statement here. STATEMENT OF KEITH PITTS, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE DEPUTY SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. PITTS. I appreciate being before you, Mr. Chairman, and the rest of the subcommittee. It's good to be back over here. And I would like to commend the subcommittee for its interest in an issue that is of significant importance to U.S. agriculture producers, agriculture trade, and the global environment.
Secretary Glickman and Deputy Secretary Rominger are intensely interested in this issue and have been proponents of an aggressive research program. We do realize more needs to be done and are prepared to step up to the plate for that. On top of what we have done already with ARS, we have initiated some new steps to improve our efforts to identify, develop, and meet the most critical needs for methyl bromide users.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Many people have talked about how important methyl bromide is to agriculture and the USDA certainly concurs with the extreme importance of that pesticide. Since the 2001 phaseout date for methyl bromide was announced, ARS has increased its efforts to find alternatives. Spending for methyl bromide alternatives has increased from $7.4 million in fiscal year 1993 to the current $14.6 million for fiscal year 1998. Initially we did start out spending most of that research on post-harvest uses of methyl bromide, but over the years, recognizing the importance of preplant use of methyl bromide, we now have a research program that is equally split between the two.
Our budget up here on the Hill, we've asked for an additional $2 million as part of a new effort that I will get to later. Also, since fiscal year 1996, we have begun field validation studies on a lot of the lab work that has been going on at ARS.
In the area of soil treatment, which is one of the two major uses for methyl bromide, there are limited chemicals out there that are registered for use as alternatives to methyl bromide. As individual products, we have found that they are not particularly efficacious, when stacked up to methyl bromide. However, we are doing a lot of work with combinations of different chemicals and are finding efficacy to be there and certainly one issue that we need to work with in regard to these combinations is cost and we are working with that through the field validation trials and we are seeing some promising results from the field validation trials in some of these combinations and we remain committed to sorting through issues related to these chemical combinations and their costs and any potential limitations there may be there.
Most of the preplant research that ARS does on methyl bromide alternatives is concentrated on nonchemical methods and we are finding, however, that when we do nonchemical methods and combine them with chemical control methods we are finding some pest control that results in equal to or better than what we see with methyl bromide in soil fumigation.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A lot of the nonchemical approaches that we are looking at are soil solarization, better rootstocks, biocontrol methods, agricultural practices such as crop rotations. All of this in field validation; I had talked quite a bit with ARS and we do feel like between what we have in the lab that shows promise, we have most of that out in the field and taking a look at it over the next couple of years. Like we have done with soil treatment, with post-harvest we don't see a lot of direct replacements for methyl bromide. However, there are some alternative fumigants out there that are showing promise like Phosphine which we are using currently now with stored products and grains and certainly if we can get that produce registered for other uses that will be ideal.
Other fumigants such as carbonyl sulfide also appear efficacious and if we can get that registered, it does have potential for some alternative uses for methyl bromide. There are a few other fumigants out there as well that are showing promise and we are going to continue working on those.
As far as nonchemical alternatives, I don't know if I would characterize them as alternatives entirely, but processes we've used in the past on other products such as hot water dips, and heat treatments, and kiln drying, and irradiation in control atmospheres are showing a lot of potential to deal with specific uses. These are not new nonchemical treatments per se but we are looking at potential applications for some of these. Overall, for preplant and post-harvest uses we are getting more comfortable with what we are seeing coming out of the lab and into the field and while it may not be quite as efficacious or it may be efficacious and more costly at this time than methyl bromide, it does appear to be looking better and we are looking forward to further developing these potential alternatives.
As far as some new approaches that USDA needs to, and will, undertake. We do realize the need to better coordinate the lab work that's going on with NARS with the Extension and Land Grant System in CSRES and we are working now to try to better integrate those two research agencies to improve grower outreach and getting more happening in the field.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think you will see a lot of that reflected in the next go round in the budget that we do. A lot is going on individually with some areas but we would like to have that done on a more broad basis and that is in the process of being worked through.
A second effort that we have undertaken is trying to work even more cooperatively with actual methyl bromide users. ARS does quite a bit now; in fact about 35 percent of their field research is done on actual growers' fields. In order to improve grower access to the research program, in part of the fiscal year 1999 budget that the USDA submitted is we have asked for an additional $2 million that will be used for extra material cooperative research program that will be grower developed and thatit will be modeled after a pest management alternatives program that we have in place where growers can actually come in and submit proposals that they want to work with a particular company or particular group to develop an alternative that ARS or CSRES may not be doing and we are certainly looking forward to working with growers and Congress and stay close to develop that program if it is funded.
Implicit in all of these approaches is that we do need to work better to support a multidisciplinary approach to methyl bromide alternatives. It's clear there is not going to be a silver bullet associated with this so we do need to broaden that. In an effort also to help with our planning we do have an economic analysis that's under way that will serve three purposes. One, to catalog and review all methyl bromide uses, and also quantify replacement value proposed alternatives, and we also want to have experts come in and work with us to review draft data and refine and improve the models that we are using for this economic analysis and, finally, use it to determine effects of a methyl bromide phaseout on consumers and producers.
Those workshops are under way. One has already been completed in Florida where experts are reviewing our data and models today and tomorrow in Sacramento. We are looking forward to the results. We should have some preliminary information available shortly after the Sacramento workshop. The final study will be completed in the fall.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Once that study is completed we expect to have a clear understanding of economic implications of the phaseout and what single alternatives or sweep alternatives to methyl bromide exist and how these alternatives compare to the use of methyl bromide for important crops with respect to costs and yields.
Overall, this will be used to help us improve our decisionmaking process at USDA.
Mr. Chairman, in closing, I might say that even with the sincere commitment of USDA, EPA, and growers to develop alternatives, we may still find situations where effective alternatives will not be available for important uses by the phaseout deadline. Should this occur, it could have significant economic implications for segments of U.S. agriculture. We would like to work together to avoid such an occurrence and to assure that we maintain a vital and prosperous agricultural economy and help the environment.
The phaseout schedule for methyl bromide within the Montreal Protocol provides a less aggressive phaseout schedule and has included some important use exemptions that currently do not exist under U.S. law. Protocol schedule could help facilitate a smoother transition away from methyl bromide. The administration as a whole has expressed a willingness to consider a legislative change to the U.S. Clean Air Act as the 2001 phaseout date approaches and once we've had a full benefit of the assessment of grower needs and what kind of alternatives are available. We have also
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Pitts, I'm going to need to interrupt you and we're going to have to stand in recess until following this vote, if I will beg your patience here.
Mr. PITTS. Well, actually I'm done. Thanks.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pitts appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you for your patience and I appreciate your time. Mr. Pitts, were you completed?
Mr. PITTS. Finished.
Mr. COMBEST. OK. As just a matter of interest and to see exactly how this works, how was the decision arrived at that would determine when the United States would ban their use of methyl bromide and the other countries that were involved. It was mentioned, I think, Mexico, Brazil, and India would have to eliminate their use of methyl bromide in 2015China, India, Mexico, and Brazil. Japan and the European Union would not be required to complete their phaseout until the year 2005. How is it determined what dates countries will use in that phaseout?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Let me try on the U.S. phaseout schedule. The 1990 Clean Air Act amendments had provisions that dealt with chemicals that were listed as ozone depleters. And it provided a certain amount of time between the listing of those chemicals as ozone depleters and the phaseout. EPA undertook a rule-making with regard to the listing of methyl bromide. I believe in 1992, I believe we listed it in 1993 and we provided the full discretion, the full amount of time allowed under law, which is a full 7 years, which is the maximum amount of time to the phaseout allowed by the Clean Air Act.
Mr. COMBEST. The Clean Air Act dictated that 7-year max?
Mr. STOLPMAN. That's right, and to provide as much flexibility as possible, the EPA did not list a phase-down schedule. We simply extended the full amount of time that we could to the phaseout schedule. I believe we published that rule in 1994 and provided the full 7year period of time allowed by law. So that's how the U.S. phaseout schedule for 2001 was determined. It is a matter of law, dictated by the Clean Air Act.
Mr. COMBEST. In terms of the Montreal Protocol, does that set a time frame in there that the other countries are complying with? Do we know how the dates, for example, by Japan, Mexico, were determined.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PITTS. Well, in many instances countries that were within the Protocol, their negotiating positions within the Protocol were dictated by their own domestic laws as well. Canada, EU have phaseout schedules of their own and, of course, we have the January 1, 2001, phaseout schedule. The United States, when we went to the Montreal Protocol, we were basically told to try to get everybody as close to our phaseout date because of the competitiveness issues and within that process is when you just try to work with countries to establish phaseout dates. Prior to September 1997, developed countries had a 2010 phaseout date for methyl bromide and developing had no phaseout date at all. So that's initially the scenario we went into, into Montreal in September and through negotiations we went from developing countries saying no phaseout date at all to agree to a 10-year grace period from whatever the developed country phaseout date was. And thatone reason that ended up being the case is with CFC's and some other ozone-depleting substances, that has generally been the standard grace period that developed countries have looked for in the process.
Mr. COMBEST. Under our trade agreements with these countries, if a product is illegallybe used in the United States onwell methyl bromide on any product that, any vegetable, for example. What do our trade agreements say in regard to importing that vegetable from another country that uses methyl bromide?
Mr. PITTS. As far, as our protocols within AFS, we do not explicitly spell out that methyl bromide has to be used across the board. We are always willing to look at other methods to control quarantine pests or other exotic pests that may be of a concern to us. In most instances, where we are not comfortable with an alternative approach, we do always go back to methyl bromide as what will be used to control quarantine pests.
Mr. COMBEST. No. I mean, what do our trade laws say aboutOK, we use methyl bromide. But what do our trade laws say about products being imported into this country which have had an application of a chemical that is illegal to use in this country?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PITTS. In the United States if somethingand Jim, you can jump in here if I get off track, but if we have eliminated a pesticide use in the United States, the practice at EPA is to revoke the tolerance for all uses of that pesticide. Of course, what will be key in that decision-making process is you need to have a detectable residue of a particular pesticide on the commodity, even if it is in violation.
Jim is that accurate?
Mr. JONES. Yes, that's accurate.
Mr. COMBEST. After the period of time for the phaseout of methyl bromide, if methyl bromide was used on tomatoes grown in Mexico and there was a detectable residue, then they would be prohibited from being imported?
Mr. JONES. That is accurate. Just to clarify, the EPA would, when methyl bromide is phased out, have to cancel the registration of methyl bromide and our practice would be upon cancellation of methyl bromide registrations we would revoke the tolerances and when the tolerances are revoked, at that point any residues of methyl bromide on agricultural commodities would be in violation.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Dooley.
Mr. DOOLEY. On the issue of the willingness of the administration to agree to an extension if there was not an alternative to methyl bromide developed prior to 2001, what is the, I guess the expectation with EPA as well as USDA when giving consideration to the lead time it takes to develop a product and also go through the registration process and also to make sure that it is a product that will be, in fact, available. How much lead time is EPA and USDA expecting to have in order to make the decision on when they are going to be willing to support legislation to amend the Clean Air Act?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Well, let me just try. The administration, since, I believe, as early as 1993, has expressed a willingness to work in a bipartisan way to develop legislative changes as we approach the phaseout date and see that, in fact, there are in individual areas, or for critical uses, that there are not efficacious alternatives. With regard to the lead time issues, I mean, our rule at EPA, calling for the phaseout in 2001, as I said, we put that rule out in 1994. We gave the full extent of the lead time allowed under the law which is a full 7-year period of time to develop the alternatives for these uses and we and USDA have embarked on a lot of effort to work with farmers and growers to help develop these alternatives. I think it is impossible to say that there are specific lead times forin some cases we are, you know, obviously very far along in terms of developing either alternatives or combinations that are alternatives, so I don't think there is a single answer with regard to what kind of a lead time is required before you, or, when you might need a legislative relief.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, the earlier we can come up with a targeted solution which, as we've said, we want to work cooperatively on, that would lay the future either of some kind of exemption process or a schedule process, obviously the better. But, in fact, there is still considerable lead time between now and 2001 with regard to the development of other alternatives, some of which are pretty far along.
Mr. DOOLEY. Even with the, what was negotiated in the latter round of the Montreal Protocol that gave specific exemptions for critical use of methyl bromide, well just that issue alone that the administration negotiated, won't that require an amendment of the Clean Air Act?
Mr. PITTS. Any of the exemptions that were negotiated in the Protocol would require an exemption under the Clean Air Act. In the Clean Air Act of 2001 all uses of methyl bromide would be eliminated. And back to the lead time issue, we are aware that even for next year's crop growers are making decisions now on whether or not they are going to use methyl bromide and, certainly, as we get to 2001 we need to keep in mind that there is some lead time that is going to be required, and a decision can't be made late in the year 2000. It may have to happen as soon as next year; we'll have to take a look at that as we see how the alternatives
Mr. DOOLEY. Is there an agreement, though, that there will have to be legislation to amend the Clean Air Act even to comply with the agreement that the administration negotiated in the last round of the Montreal Protocol?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Well, again, ourunder our law we have a ban in the year 2001, so there is no necessary amendment to the Clean Air Act to comply with our schedule. If we were to try to align ourselves with the internationally agreed schedule, that would require an amendment to the Clean Air Act.
Mr. DOOLEY. Well, what about theI mean, in Ms. McGinty's letter to myself and other members of Congress where she stated that they were successful in negotiating the use, for critical use, an exemption which has the signature of the administration on. Does that not, in itself, require an amendment of the Clean Air Act?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STOLPMAN. An exemption like the one contained in the international agreement
Mr. DOOLEY. That the administration negotiated and signed off on.
Mr. STOLPMAN [continuing]. Would require an amendment of the Clean Air Act. The General Accounting Office and our legal office have looked at our authority, or our ability, at least in a preliminary basis within our legal basis, as to whether we could administratively manage an exemption process like that and at least the initial determination is that we don't have that authority under the Clean Air Act.
Mr. DOOLEY. So, I guess I get to my initial point is the administration going to be willing to wait until 2000 before they even move forward in supporting legislation that would support these exemptions that they negotiated?
Mr. STOLPMAN. No, I think we've said all along that we would be willing to support, and work with the Congress, on a bipartisan approach, a narrowly-targeted solution. My boss came up, when she was still with us at EPA in 1995, and laid out five principles that she thought should be met with regard to any legislative fix in this area.
I could quickly run through them. I think they are very important. One is that whatever we do has to continue to protect the ozone layer. The second is that it not undercut our obligations under the Montreal Protocol. Third, that it does meet the needs of farmers to maintain the availability of methyl bromide for critical uses; fourth, that it continue to create incentives for continued research and development; and, last, that it be administratively simple so that we could manage it.
We, frankly, haven't seen a bill that meets those kind of criteria yet, but, again, Ms. McGinty, and my boss, and Mickey Kantor and others have all expressed over time an interest to work cooperatively on this issue.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLEY. I'll wait until next year.
Mr. COMBEST. Ms. Stabenow.
Ms. STABENOW. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for coming in late, but it appears from what Mr. Dooley was saying that you are responding that there are alternatives? I know there has been a tremendous amount of money spent focusing on research into alternatives for methyl bromide. Did I understand you to say that there were some alternatives in the pipeline at this point? Because that's not my understanding. It's my understanding that there aren't any, so.
Mr. PITTS. We currently have field trials ongoing on combinations of different things that we view as being alternatives to methyl bromide as a specific use and we are seeing efficacy there as far as there being able to control the same suite of pests that methyl bromide does. The issues that we are working through are one of cost effectiveness relative to methyl bromide, but, yes, there are alternatives, either chemical or nonchemical, that some growers are having luck using in specific areas, but that is very difficult to do on a broad basis. We don't, certainly don't have everything covered with methyl bromide and that is one thing that we do want to ensure that we have as we move forward.
Mr. STOLPMAN. Maybe I can just elaborate. I think maybe it's fair to say there is no single alternative to replace the many uses of methyl bromide. There is no silver bullet that could just step in and do all the things that methyl bromide does. But there has been, I think, a lot of progress in the development of alternatives, and it depends on the pest, the soil type, the climate, the crop, the season you are operating in, et cetera. And, in fact, considerable progress has been made with either individual substitutes or a combination.
Ms. STABENOW. I guess I'd appreciate some more specifics. Let me throw our cherries. We have Michigan cherries, California cherries. Can you speak to the cherry industry. What do we have at this point that has been tried and is there anything that looks like it might be a successful alternative?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PITTS. Congresswoman, I've got Ken Vick here who is National Program leader at ARS for the methyl bromide research and I think what I'd like to do is turn that over to him.
Ms. STABENOW. Thank you.
Mr. VICK. Thank you. Could you clarify? Are we talking post-harvest or preplant or are we talking about trade issues or
Ms. STABENOW. We're talking about planting, I mean as we are talking abouttake a look at cherries as just one example just to be a little more specific. What do we have as an alternative to the growers as they are planting, growing, harvesting cherries.
Mr. VICK. In the case of perennials, that's a very difficult problem. We have quite a lot of research on it, but because the plants are in the ground for so many years, the investmentthe treatment that you give the soil before the plant is put into the ground has an effect for maybe the whole life of the orchard, 2030 years.
It's a difficult issue, but what we're concentrating on are resistant rootstocks, which will be resistant to some of the replant diseases. We've had particularly good luck with research in Georgia for some peach diseases. I'm getting back to cherries, but in the case of cherries, at our Wenatchee and Yakima laboratories, we have a program under way looking for alternatives, but I cannot tell you at this moment that we have an identified alternative for replant disease for cherries.
Ms. STABENOW. So, at this point, that's a serious issue. If you were a grower, you'd be very concerned about that because there are no alternatives on the horizon. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. VICK. I don't think that that's the way I would put it. But I think the approaches we are looking at are resistant rootstocks, some combination with chemicals and, possibly, some biological approaches as well. At this moment we don't have identified a specific alternative for replants of peaches orwell, of cherries, walnuts, almonds, those kind of perennial crops.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. STABENOW. Might I ask one more question? Can you give me a crop where there is an alternative, or at least one that would appear to be on the horizon, or holds promise?
Mr. VICK. In the case ofas an example of a preplant issue where I think we have made great progress. In the case of tomatoes in Florida, a combination of Telone, chloropicrin, and tillam, technical seems to give excellent efficacy. There are, though, regulatory issues involved with tillam. Hand-planting tomatoes into soil that has been treated with tillam; it apparently is not registered for that, so there are still issues there and sometimes if you have a very severe pest year, then some of these alternatives don't look as good as they do whenever the pest year is not so bad, but that's an example of where we've had a pretty good efficacy from an alternative treatment. But again, it's a combination treatment, it's not a single treatment.
Ms. STABENOW. Folks in Michigan are very concerned about, obviously wanting alternatives, and concerned that we haven't success yet in identifying them, and very concerned about what happens with the phaseout, the serious nature of that to our industry, our agricultural crops if, in fact, we are not successful. Thank you.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Pombo.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to follow up on the question Ms. Stabenow was asking. The one example you gave was with tomatoes and it is my understanding that you could not, because of regulatory problems and the problem that enough studies have not been done with the combination of the chemicals that you are talking about, that you couldn't use that today on a broad scale. Is that accurate?
Mr. JONES. Well, these products are all currently registered. They are not currently registered
Mr. POMBO. In combination?
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JONES. In combination or in the
Mr. POMBO. So you could not do that right now?
Mr. JONES. Today, you could not use
Mr. POMBO. And the only thing that you've done is on a small pilot project you've been able to use it?
Mr. JONES. If there was an application before the EPA to register that, I'd be able to tell you what sort of time frame we could give to with respect to its ultimate registration. I assume that once USDA has done enough field testing, that they will make a decision as to whether or not they want to pursue registration.
Mr. POMBO. So the one case that you've given us of a so-called success, you couldn't use today. How many years are you away from having an application to use these chemicals in combination?
Mr. PITTS. Well, first of all, we would not be registering the product. I do know we have talked with the registrant of the particular product and they feel like they have a registration eligibility decision forthcoming, but still, that's a situationwe're probably looking into the next year or two before we actually see something registered. In particular, one issue that has come up with that particular combination are groundwater-related issues and I think they have ongoing discussions with EPA now on how to work through that.
Mr. POMBO. So the alternative to methyl bromide may be a possible groundwater pollution problem? So we have an unproven theory that methyl bromide may be ozone depleting and the answer to it is a possible groundwater contamination. And is that's the kind of success
Mr. STOLPMAN. If I can comment on the proven theory side of that, we have very clear evidence that bromines and chlorine are very strong ozone depleters. It is not an unproven theory. Bromine, which is the concern with methyl bromide, as I indicated in my brief testimony, is a much stronger ozone depleter than is the chlorine that comes from the CFC's that we have banned in 1996.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. We also have competing scientific studies that question the impact of methyl bromide on the ozone as well.
Mr. STOLPMAN. Well, there will always be some naysayers, but the overwhelming scientific conclusions are that, in fact, these are ozone depleters. The ocean which was mentioned is, indeed, both a generator of bromine and a sink of bromine and on net it is the manmade compounds that we believe is the thing that has thrown the natural balance out of balance and has caused the depletion that we have seen in the ozone layer.
Mr. POMBO. Just to continue on with the questions that Ms. Stabenow started. The closest we are on a replacement on any of the multitude of crops is maybe 2 years for having a replacement?
Mr. PITTS. I don't want to leave the impression that we are only looking at one thing that is going to deal with the methyl bromide
Mr. POMBO. I perfectly understand that there are all kinds of different chemicals that you are looking at, and I perfectly understand that there is no solution that you have found yet.
Mr. PITTS. There are chemicals out there and nonchemical alternatives that some growers are able to use successfully. As I said, they are not broad-based solutions, they can be quite specific to localities right now. Part of what we are trying to do is pull together what we do know that works for some producers and see if there is any work that we can do with that core and develop it for other areas where it may not be in use now and cannot definitively say that everything is going to be successful or cost effective, but that we are working on it and to see some near-term results. It's a frustration for me too and I have to sit with the lab researchers and there are some things that they feel like they are having success and you want to know why it isn't being rolled out immediately and I think that's only because they do need to look at whether it is going to work in the long-term and we do need to be concerned about some of the risk-risk tradeoffs that may be involved with some of the products we are looking at. But those are our issues that we are going to have to and are willing to work through.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. Mr. Chairman, in my district, this is obviously a very big issue and a big concern amongst my farmers for a number ofdifferent reasons. One of the major issues is directly on their crops for production and also for trade, being able to ship their crops. But also, I'm beginning to get a lot of concern from others, people who live within the urban areas in my district that are concerned that the alternative is actually going to be worse for the environment and directly impact them a lot more than and a lotmuch more immediately than if we continue to use methyl bromide. So it's a very big concern on all fronts in my part of California, and I'm sure Mr. Dooley's as well.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Pombo.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is an issue that has been around for some time and certainly is an issue that not all of my colleagues, but a lot of my colleagues, have expressed some concern about. One of the thing I'm struck by is the balance of protecting, so we can have clean airwe should have clean air and having the ability to grow quality and a quantity and a safe food supply. And I, for one, on this committee certainly am pro environment, but I don't think we have to be that to the extent that we don't find ways where we know that that transition has some costs, some costs in terms of time and effort and also in terms of trying to find out how we assist farmers in this transition.
Methyl bromide apparently is that kind of magical chemical that we can use for a variety of things. I try to grow roses every now and then and I can tell you that I look forand I claim to be an environmentalist, tooI look for the product that will take care of my roses, take care of my tomatoes, whatever. When you find a product that has been this effective, we are going to have to find ways how to disaggregate that, so that the use of this product will still be, at least some of the chemical compounds of that, can be disaggregated so parts of this could be available.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, I'm not proposing that I know what the alternative is, but I think with enough effort, with enough time, there should be, indeed, an alternative. You will find in testimony following this, I was struck by the gentleman from the Northwest and trees is going to be talking about the nursery area. That not only in terms of products but also our nurseries as well, many of these are dependent on having something similar to this chemically. Now I'm not sure if USDA and EPA areMr. Pitts, I happen to know you so I won't pick on you too hard. We've been throwing you softballs, you know that, right?
Mr. PITTS. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I want to know, what has USDA done to have EPA to understand the pain and the anguish of farmers and how have you been engaged in looking at those alternatives that are up for review so we can get an alternative.
Mr. PITTS. A project we've got going on to get better coordinated, is working on an economic analysis of the impacts of the phaseout of methyl bromide we are also using that economic analysis as an opportunity to review products that are viewed as potential alternatives to methyl bromide or maybe actually used by some growers as alternatives. We are in the process of assigning numerical values to those potential alternatives of what they may do to yields. Also, using it as an opportunity to look at specific alternatives and having an understanding to what the barriers may be to the use, whether it is grower acceptance or registry ability or if there are environmental impacts. So, in that sense, we are working closely together on that and we also are working with outside stakeholders on that whole process.
Mrs. CLAYTON. When was the regulation promulgated on this? How many years ago was that? The Clean Water Act?
Mr. STOLPMAN. I believe the final rule was 1993.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK.
Mr. STOLPMAN. Congresswoman, you talked about a miracle chemical and, in fact, there is another miracle chemical, Freon, which
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. I remember that.
Mr. STOLPMAN. And was used just all over the place in virtually everything that we use, our refrigerators, our cars, et cetera. And the fact is that through the ingenuity of the users and the manufacturers, with a lot of pain and a lot of work to develop alternatives, we've managed to phaseout from the 1990 Clean Air Act, we've phased out by January 1, 1996. There's a lot of work that goes into making that type of a phaseout of these miracle chemicals happen. But they are important, as I indicated in my testimony, because we're talking about not the wrapping on carrots but the wrapping of our earth and the protective layer that's there, that's there to protect us all against ultraviolet radiation.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I guess the final thing is that farmers feel that their hands are being tied behind them because our country goes over and negotiates international arrangements, which is far more lenient than it is here in the United States and that seems grossly unfair to the farmers here. Even if there is, as painful as the phaseout is, they would like to feel that the playing field is even. And there is not the kind of alternative that speaks to the control of that quality of product or quantity product, then there is the whole issue of trade and having other additional complications. So it is not a matter of whether we want clean air or good food, I think it's a matter of fairness as well to make sure that our country is not setting two standards, one standard for the farmers here but yet would be a part of international standards. That certainly is far more lenient on them. And I'm not sure that the standards we set internationally can preclude what we do domestically, but I'm also of the opinion that we should never do anything internationally that seems to put a jeopardy on something, a commitment we've made domestically.
It would appear to me at least the administration would want to be consistent in what they are saying so as not to put their own farmers at a disadvantage in that an area. And, again, the issue isn't whether we want a disregard for the environment, the issue is whether our farmers can have the opportunity to grow their products as they would like to grow them and, also, that the playing ground is level internationally because much of their trade is dependent on them having a product that would be acceptable internationally.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's all I have comments for, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Well, just very briefly, you mentioned, Mr. Stolpman, the question of Freon and it's my understanding that other countries haven't diminishedthat was another problem, at least initially, where other countries didn't diminish their use. My specific question is earlier, in your earlier statement, you mentioned the damage to kidneys and liver from methyl bromide. Are you familiar, by any chance, with the number of documented cases of damage to liver and kidney last year that have been documented from methyl bromide?
Mr. STOLPMAN. No, I don't have that, sir.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Or in the last 5 years?
Mr. STOLPMAN. All I can do is provide for the record the information that we have that we based that on.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. If you'd do that, I'd appreciate it.
Mr. STOLPMAN. I'd be happy to do that.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. And, as I see the problem, it is a question of what kind of phase in is reasonable. It seems like on the part of USDA you would be aggressively pushing the research, which you have indicated that you are, but it seems to me that EPA needs to be very cooperative and cognizant of the problems of finding reasonable alternative substitutes in having the kind of phase-in period that can accommodate the research inquiry so that we don't put our farmers and, ultimately, our consumers at a disadvantage.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I hope you'll pardon my making reference to the fact that I presided over this hearing as it related to a previous fumigant chemical, back in May 1984, and at that time I was chairman of the corresponding subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee and it was with regard to the phaseout of ethylene dibromide and the problems of farmers in California, who had very few alternatives to that fumigant that was being used. One of those, as I pointed out then, was methyl bromide and we still did not know whether that would be satisfactory. It would seem to me that after 14 years, we might have made a little bit more progress.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In an effort to determine whether we had, in fact, made such progress, I wrote a letter to the Secretary 2 years ago asking him to give me a progress report and after only a year he responded to my letter and gave me a report entitled ''Status of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Research Program on Alternatives to Methyl Bromide 19921996.''
Now the report was full of interesting information, but had no solutions to the problem and, in fact, pointed out a number of the reasons why we weren't getting solutions, including, I presume, a continuing decline in the amount of funding available for agricultural research.
Now, I would like to ask the USDA witness that since we have gone through three rounds of cancellation crises with fumigant chemicals, beginning at least 15 years ago, and since we have been aware during all of that time that the replacement chemical was also likely to be canceled, why is it that the USDA seems to be taken by surprise and waits until very late in the game to really mobilize significant resources to address the problem and I recognize that these questions are phrased in a rather antagonistic way but I hope you'll forgive me for it.
Let me ask you specifically, what changes in research and extension programs are being made that will break this cycle and hopefully avoid the next cancellation crisis in only another 15 years?
Mr. PITTS. I will speak to that. I am familiar with the letter. It was one of the things that I discovered when I first took the job about a year ago. It drove me to go ahead and set up an economic analysis of the research program at USDA which will provide us a road map to retool the research program as is appropriate. One thing that has come out of those discussions that have been going on with economic analysis and working with experts is the field researchers do say that we need to focus more on multidisciplinary approaches with the research in general, but certainly in the context of methyl bromide. And that is clearly one plea that is going to come out of this process that we hope to have wrapped up this fall.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I will tell you that, as we look at food safety issues across the board, whether it's a pesticide use or free-borne pathogens or water quality issues, there's a recognition at the Department that we need to be able to work with growers across the board on our research and our recommendations, because anything that you may suggest, for example, how you are going to deal with a pesticide use, could put you in conflict with another set of issues, and that is part of the discussion we've got going on with the year 2000 budget, about how we can improve that.
That is certainly one approach we could take to address the issue you are bringing up, and, certainly, we are seeing that a lot now with FQPA implementation as well. But we have some longstanding issues out there now that we are in the process of gearing up and working towards and certainly doing everything to ensure that we are not ultimately surprised there as well.
Mr. BROWN. Well, I would commend you for the changes that you indicate that you are making in terms of putting more emphasis on field trials in cooperation with growers. I think that is a better use of your resources than delivering papers at scientific meetings or something of that sortmuch as I like papers at scientific meetings but we need to, obviously, increase the scope of these activities. I have some serious questions about whether you are even yet properly allocating your resources, your funding resources, to the kind of research that is most in need.
For example, you spend more money on post-harvest uses of methyl bromide than on pre-harvest uses, and yet it seems that that is just the reverse of what should be the case in spite of the circumstances; that may be a rather superficial analysis on my part, but it seems that it might have some validity.
Recognizing that my time has expired, Mr. Chairman, I presume that you will allow questions to be submitted for the record?
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COMBEST. The gentleman is certainly correct.
Mr. BROWN. I won't ask you to put the whole hearing record from 15 years ago in the record
Mr. COMBEST. I would be very interested in reading it.
Mr. BROWN. I know you would be. Here's a copy
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much. Autographed, I hope.
If the gentleman won't talk about onions any more, the Chair would recognize the gentleman from Georgia
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Well, I'll take that as a statement of defeat on that issue and thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I hope all of you hear, and I think you probably did, the comments that were made by the very first panel on this issue of multiplicity of crops that methyl bromide is used on. I know you are personally familiar with the fact that that is the case. I'm a little bit disturbed by the comments that have been made regarding the health issue and the fact that we know that there are certain body organs that are affected by the use of methyl bromide. And the reason it concerns me, and really scares me to death, not from the standpoint of our folks using it, but with that knowledge in hand, what have we done? We've gone out here and we have told our farmers that they have got to discontinue using methyl bromide in the year 2001 and we've told our biggest competitor, Mexico, that you can use this product until 2015.
So, we're having total disregard for folks in the United States that are going to be buying products grown in Mexico. Now, I'm not blaming you for this. I'm assuming nobody sitting at the table was involved in the negotiation on that, but that is just a continuing problem that arises with this administration regarding the negotiation of those types of agreements.
In my part of the world, where we grow an awful lot of peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, our No. 1 competitor is not California or Texas; it's Mexico. And to think that those folks are going to be able to put products on the shelf cheaper than what our American-grown products are and our grocery store shoppers are going to be buying that product when we know, according to what you say, they are running a health hazard, really galls me to no end. And it just gives me more concern about where American agriculture is headed and the fact that there are too many domestic policies, both coming out of USDA, EPA, and other agencies, that are almost deliberately designed to destroy American agriculture and I am extremely concerned about that.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am pleased, Mr. Stolpman, to hear you say that there has been a speeding up of the application process for these alternative chemicals. That has been, I know, a nightmare for the EPA but it's been more of a nightmare for our chemical companies out there. I guess if there's any one thing that I have heard constantly both from the pharmaceutical area as well as the farm chemical area, it's the fact that it takes too long to get a chemical approved to go on the shelf. And I would urge you to continue to workhowever you speed it up, it hasn't been enough and I would urge you to keep working on eliminating the bureaucratic process that causes unneeded delays.
My question to you is that, in talking about these multiple crops, I'm not sure I understood you correctly in your opening statement, Mr. Stolpman, about these products that have already come on the market, but I thought I understood you to say there are some alternatives on the market to be used, for example, on tomatoes. Now with us using methyl bromide, east coast to west coast, on virtually every crop that is grown in the ground, are these alternative products that have already been approved or close to being approved, products that can be used on a multiple crop basis, or are we looking at a crop-by-crop chemical that may be available?
Mr. STOLPMAN. I think, as I said earlier, and I think as Keith has said, there is no single alternative to methyl bromide. You basically are going to have to look at this on a pest-by-pest, crop-by-crop, region-by-region, perhaps season-by-season approach. So, the research into alternatives has to be very comprehensive in terms of looking at individual crops and alternatives, such as, I'm sorry Mrs. Clayton has left, but, such as, alternatives such as greenhouses for tobacco seedlings as opposed to other chemicals. And there has been considerable success in those kinds of areas.
So, all I was reflecting on are the kinds of progress we're beginning to see in some of the case studies that I have indicated I would like to submit for the record. As was indicated on tomatoes this is athe most success has been with a combination of chemicals, but again, that combination has not been registered as a combination.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If I can change the subject just for a second just to address your question about competition, competition is a very important issue, obviously, to agriculture. Just some facts with regard to Mexico: Mexico uses about 4 percent of the methyl bromide we use in the United States. They use about 60 percent of that, of their 4 percent if you will, on tomatoes, but only 5 percent of their entire tomato crop is that 60 percent that uses methyl bromide. So I think we need to get some facts into this debate.
The fact is that developed countries, the ones that have agreed to a phaseout schedule of 2005, beyond the United States, consume 80 percent of the methyl bromide worldwide. The additional 20 percent is consumed by the rest of the 75 percent of the people of the globe. So there are a number of facts there. Competition is a key issue, I will agree with you on that, but I think we have to make sure we understand the facts with regard to the uses of methyl bromide today and the fact that the developing countries have agreed to a freeze at current levels under the Montreal Protocol.
Mr. PITTS. Congressman Chambliss, not to draw your wrath, I do have to admit I was involved
Mr. CHAMBLISS. I know you were too, Keith. I don't have to be easy on you, buddy. Mrs. Clayton was kind to you.
Mr. PITTS. I do have to say I was part of the negotiations in Montreal and our effort there was to get everybody on the same phaseout schedule that we have with the Clean Air Act and, unfortunately, through the negotiations that was not achievable. However, we were able to go from absolutely no phaseout date for developing countries under any circumstances, which is initially the position they did take, to at least get an acceptance that they would have a phaseout date. After a good week of negotiations that did end up falling into a 10-year grace period which is typically what has happened with a lot of the other ozone-depleting chemicals. I wish we could have gotten it closer to what we currently have to live with under the Clean Air Act, but a lot of effort did go in to at least getting it moved that far.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHAMBLISS. I wish you hadn't told me you helped negotiate that because as Mr. Thomas said, that was a bad deal. But, just one quick follow up there. We've had a number of inquiries addressed to USDA regarding the use of chemicals in Mexico on peanuts for example. We know that they are using some chemicals down there that we can't use up here. And we're going to be having this same debate on methyl bromide I guarantee you in 2002 to 2015. When you say they are going to use methyl bromide at the current levels, I have absolutely no confidence that the Mexican officials will police that. They are going to be using it wholesale, I guarantee you, because when it's phased out of all these other countries, more of it is going to be available for Mexico and the produce production down there is going to increase and they are just going to use more of it. And I hope we are gearing up to be able to police that and to be able to stop those products from coming across the border where they have used more than what they are supposed to use.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Cooksey.
Dr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like tothere's still a representative of USDA and still a representative to EPA at the table. I am a physician. I am concerned about people's health. I am concerned about problems of pesticides. What do you do to test food products that come across the Mexican border for toxins, for pesticides, to make sure that Americans who consume these products are getting a product, a food product, that is not dangerous to their health?
Mr. PITTS. I guess I can speak to it. I, unfortunately, don't have the right agency here which is the Food and Drug administration that is charged with inspecting imported foods for violative pesticide residues. A long-running issue related to that is that currently we do only inspect about 2 percent of all imports. I wish we could do more. What FDA has done, though, is make every effort to target two areas where we suspect a chemical that is introduced through imports and banned in the United States. Certainly that needs to be beefed up; and one other thing FDA has done in the context of food safety is they are looking for some authority to be more proactive and actively go overseas and work with countries on their food safety systems so we don't have to necessarily regulate it on a per-commodity sampling basis.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We can take a look at what is actually going on in the country and if we've got public health concerns in the United States about what may be going on over there that there's an opportunity to stop that.
Dr. COOKSEY. Don't you think that someone has an obligation to the American people to check that other 98 percent of the Mexican produce that comes across to American food consumers?
Mr. PITTS. I think, ideally, if it were practical to inspect every commodity before a consumer had it, you could guarantee public health. But, realistically, that's not possible. It is not economically feasible to be targeted in your approach. I wish there were a
Mr. LUCAS. Would the gentleman yield one second?
I think I can partially respond to that because we've asked that question a number of times right here. And Keith's exactly right, they don't have the manpower to inspect all of that produce that is coming across the border. The answer to that question we have consistently gotten from USDA and FDA is that we are leaving it to the Mexican officials to do those testing and inspecting and that ought to give you great comfort that it's being done right.
Dr. COOKSEY. Are these the same Mexican officials that allow money laundering to get on their banks and drug lords to run their country?
Mr. PITTS. I do want to say that we are looking at other authorities to ensure greater U.S. involvement in protecting our public from imported goods that may be contaminated with illegal pesticide residue or free borne pathogen. I would not say that we are totally dependent on any one country to make sure they are abiding by our standards without
Dr. COOKSEY. Well I would think that our EPA that's been very aggressive withour farmers in this country should be equally aggressive with those from Mexico. I mean, if you're really concerned, and if USDA is really concerned about the American consumer. The answer you gave me is not the answer I want to hear, but it's the facts apparently, and the truth. I'm surprised it hasn't been publicized more so.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me ask you this: Where does the EPA do most of its toxicology studies? What universities? Are they done in-house or are they done at universities and what universities? And as a corollary to that question, what universities in this country have either an independent department of toxicology or a school of toxicology within the university?
Mr. JONES. The studies that are required for registration of pesticides are actually provided by the manufacturers of those pesticides, either in-house at their own laboratories or contract laboratories under guidance that EPA provides to them, guidance that's been sent and widely peer reviewed, including by external scientists who do peer review work for EPA. As to what schools have toxicology departments. Often, as I understand it, and I'm not a toxicologist, but from my toxicology colleagues at the EPA, often the training in what we consider and call toxicology is done in a variety of different departments and universities, from biology to psychology, and we draw extensively on universities with those kinds of departments. The toxicology per se is often not the course study that is pursued. It's often biology or molecular biology or developmental psychology.
Dr. COOKSEY. Well, I must confess, I knew the answer to that question before I asked it, but one of the universities is North Carolina State. It's either UNC or North Carolina State; I'm pretty sure it's North Carolina State. And if either of you need something to do in your spare time, there's another university that has it and I'll let you find that one. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. JONES. We are hiring right now, by the way, so if you know anyone at NCC that wants to come along
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Cooksey.
Mr. Stolpman, you had mentioned that, I believe you said in 1995, that your former boss had testified about a legislative remedy that contained five criteria that would be necessary. And, I think, you said you haven't seen anything yet that met that criteria. Has EPA drafted a proposal that would meet those criteria that would deal with the problem?
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STOLPMAN. No, Mr. Chairman, we haven't.
Mr. COMBEST. Do you know if there's any thought about doing that possibly?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Currently, we're not working on that. As I said, we would believe that a bipartisan approach with the Congress is the way to go and we haven't prepared any draft legislation on our side.
Mr. COMBEST. In an effort toI mean, certainly, I think, while it may not be agreeable with every part of it, I certainly think Congress would entertain the idea of looking at a draft proposal from EPA. But in an effort to try to arrive at an accommodation with some of the concern that meet the criteria that would seemingly be necessary, would the EPA be willing to sit down with members to try to come up with a legislative proposal that would meet the criteria that you are concerned about?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Wenot only my boss, but Katie McGinty and others have, I thinkcontinue to say that we want to sit down, we want to talk; we have had staff discussions with both the House and the Senate staff, over in the appropriate committees, et cetera. So, yes, indeed, we're more than willing to sit down and talk about legislative fixes that could be approached in a bipartisan and cooperative basis.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you. Mr. Dooley.
Mr. DOOLEY. I guess, just following up Mr. Combest's point is that I'm concerned about, when is it too late really to move forward? I mean when you really look at this, we lose the implementation is really 2 1/2 years away, where we, consistent with the Clean Air Act, we don't have use of methyl bromide. As a walnut farmer, just in terms of practical application, I can tell you, if I wanted to plant a walnut tree, the soonest I can get rootstock is 2 years, two planting seasons from now. So, when we get into next year you are looking at somebodya walnut grower in central California that was going to be making decisions to plant walnut trees would have to be making a decision to plant walnut trees without any certainty that there was going to be legislation in place allowing for a critical-use exemption for methyl bromide.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now you're asking them to make a decision, and maybe even myself to make a management decision, that literally involves thousands of dollars per acre, with no certainty that I could be able to have a soil preparation that can ensure that I would be able to have a crop, I mean, in the long term. And we heard the testimony earlier that, in terms of cherries and walnuts, there's not an alternative that's out there yet.
And, so when I step back and look at the legislative process here, there's obviously not going to be a piece of legislation that is going to be introduced this year that is going to go anywhere. And, so, if we look at next year, we're looking at in March, at the earliest, we introduce a piece of legislation. In a best-case scenario, if the administration is strongly supportive of that, it might get out by the end of next year. And if it's any later than that again you are notwe are not being fair to a lot of the farmers out there that are trying to make the wisest decision.
And so, again, we're all being very honest with ourselves and we look who has got the incentive to move forward with a piece of legislation that basically codifies what the administration negotiated in Montreal with a critical-use exemption, if there is not an alternative, it's the agriculture community that has probably the greatest interest in that.
Is there any reason for us to suspect that anyone in the environmental community is going to support legislation that does this, that has to require an amendment of the Clean Air Act? Does anyone from EPA expect that anyone in the environmental community is going to support opening up the Clean Air Act, even to codify what the administration negotiated in the Montreal Protocol?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Are you asking a question? I haven't run into anybody at this point in time.
Mr. DOOLEY. And that doesn't surprise me, and so, a little bit of the frustration here is that the only chance that we have to do what the administration agreed to do, and negotiated to do, and have been hanging their hat on, is for the administration to stand squarely behind what they negotiated in the last round. And I'm a little concerned that, while we're willing to work in a bipartisan fashion to reach some type of an agreement, if we are going to be trying to move forward with the expectation that it is going to take a consensus approach to get legislation, that's a nonstarter. We're never going to get a consensus approach on this because you are going to have a significant and critical constituency in the environmental community that is going to always say no.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so the administration has to fully understand, I think, and be honest, that if you are, in fact, going to negotiate, are going to support legislation which you negotiated in the last round of Montreal Protocol, you are going to step up and say, OK, we're willing to stand behind this. And it has to happen soon because, if we delay this any beyond the first quarter of next year, we are basically doing a disservice to a lot of the users of methyl bromide. And I just hope that you appreciate that, and if you disagree with any of the analysis or assessment that I made, I'd like to hear it. Mr. Pitts?
Mr. PITTS. I would just say that in the discussions we've had within the administration, that USDA's been clear that there are some critical time lines out there that growers have to deal with and that certainly that needs to be part of the thinking as we proceed.
Mr. DOOLEY. I mean, even with the one product, this rimochloron, I think, that we talked about as an alterative to tomatoes, I think, that somebody brought up, well, how long did it take to register that?
Mr. JONES. Actually, the use on tomatoes, which is simply for weed control, wasthe State of California, actually brought it to our attention. It was registered; they used it in 6 months. Now that's because from rimosulforon was already registered and has multiple food uses, so it's relatively straightforward activity.
Mr. DOOLEY. So, in a best-case scenario, then, when we have a product that has already been registered for use, it took 6 months there. If we had a product, a new product, that hadn't necessarily been preregistered on another commodity, we're probably looking at a minimum of a year. And, again, the only point is, where we're backing up to this December 31, 2000, is that we don't have a lot of time. Yes, sir?
Mr. STOLPMAN. Congressman, you make a compelling case that we need to work aggressively together on this. Let me point out, though, that we've been pretty clear for some time. Again, my boss testified in 1995 very clearly laying out the kinds of principles of a measure that would meet everyone's needs to be able to move forward, and to date we've seen no vehicle that in any way approaches any meeting any of those principles. So I think you are kind of pointing at the administration in this case for being late, et cetera, but in fact, we, I think, have been pretty clear about what might be necessary
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLEY. Well, all I would say is that I would think that the administration would feel somewhat obligated to suggest legislative language that complied with the agreement that they negotiated in the last rounds of the Montreal Protocol, that complies with the letter that Katie McGinty said that the agreement also provides for critical-use and emergency-use exemptions that ensured continued use of methyl bromide after the final phaseout dates of adequate alternatives for such purposes are lacking.
It would seem that the administration, who negotiated that agreement, would also be interested in supporting the drafting and would suggest legislation that would comply with the five tenets that you have repeatedly identified and also was in compliance with the agreement that was negotiated.
Mr. COMBEST. Are there other members who have further questions or comments? Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman, a couple of comments and a request. The comments are stimulated by the frequent reference to the enactment of the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 under the Reagan administration, and the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 were signed under the Bush administration. It's hardly fair to pin everything on the current administration for where we stand on this.
And, Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to include in the record a copy of my letter to the Secretary, his year-later response, and the accompanying report that was included with his response.
Mr. COMBEST. Without objection. Thank you very much for your attendance today and time and questioning and, again, any information that you needed to submit for the record, we'd be happy to accept. As was indicated, there will probably be additional questions.
I'd like to now invite our third panel to the table. Mr. David Riggs is chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition; Dr. Hugh Ewart is the vice-president of scientific affairs for the Northwest Horticultural Council; Mr. William McLaughlin III is the director for communications and government affairs for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority; Mr. Scott Montgomery is the vice-president of Dry Milling Division for Cargill, Inc. and is here on behalf of the North American Millers Association; Dr. Joe Noling is the associate professor at the University of Florida; Dr. Rodriguez-Kabana is professor at the University of Alabama.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, as was mentioned in the opening comments, all of your testimony and supporting documents will be made a part of the record.
And I would now call on Mr. Riggs to proceed at will, please.
STATEMENT OF DAVID RIGGS, CHAIRMAN, CROP PROTECTION COALITION, AND PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STRAWBERRY COMMISSION
Mr. RIGGS. Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee today regarding a very important issue to our industry. I'm Dave Riggs, I'm chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition, and I'm president of the California Strawberry Commission.
Our coalition represents about 35 agricultural associations in the United States, representing tens of thousands of American farmers, billions of dollars in agricultural production, and employing hundreds of thousands individuals. We share a common concern about the potential loss of methyl bromide. Our message is very simple: The current phaseout of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol will cause a severe economic disruption of many segments of American agriculture, losses to communities, loss of jobs, and loss of international competitiveness. Now we've placed a very high priority on mobilizing resources to find viable alternatives to methyl bromide but we're still very far away from an effective alternative for many uses.
Other speakers will address the use of methyl bromide as a post-harvest fumigant. I'd like to concentrate my comments on the use of methyl bromide as a preplant soil treatment. Methyl bromide is used more-or-less as a disinfectant for the soil. It rids the soil of pathogens that can attack the delicate root system of newly-planted crops and in strawberries and other crops, methyl bromide is used in both our nurseries and in our fruiting fields. To give you an example of the effect or the use of methyl bromide, I have here the root system and crown from a strawberry plant that was grown in a fumigated nursery and planted in clean soil in the strawberry field and this is an example of a plant that was grown in nonfumigated soil.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The heathy plant will produce a reliable crop and will be better able to protect itself from diseases and pests throughout the harvest season. This plant will require constant care and additional pesticide treatments during the harvest cycle. Dr. Douglas Shaw, University of California-Davis, who conducts research on strawberry varieties and strawberry cultural practices, has completed a statistical analysis of over 47 research projects on strawberrymethyl bromide alternatives for strawberries. And he concludes that growers can expect to lose 37 percent of their production the first cultivation cycle without fumigation and that the soil continues to deteriorate for the next two or three harvest cycles, ending in almost a 60 percent reduction in total yield without fumigation.
You can find similar impacts in nursery stock and fruit production for tree fruits, nut orchards, and vineyards. And for many vegetable growers, methyl bromide controls devastating nematodes and weeds. In the strawberry industry and other crops, the loss of methyl bromide will have a significant impact to disrupt the integrated pest management programs that we've developed for many years to help us reduce the use of pesticides during the harvest cycle. We've repeatedly expressed concern that reports from the United States Environmental Program Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee, MBTOC, and the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel have been unrealistically optimistic about the availability of alternatives. And that's not just our opinion. As part of my formal record, I included letters from members of the MBTOC committee who voiced objections about the conclusions in the published reports. And it is important to remember that these are supposed to be consensus documents. It is very clear in the last report that there was not a consensus.
In fact, the TEAP reports of 1995 and 1997 were obligated to issue amendments because of flawed conclusions. These, of course, have been the foundation of decision making under the Montreal Protocol. I want to emphasize, and we've talked a lot about the competitive environment this afternoon, I want to emphasize that the viability of an alternative is directly linked to the regulation of our competitors. We all know what the phaseout schedule is and the discrepancy between the Clean Air Act and the schedule for the developing nations. The developing nations will be able to use methyl bromide until 2015 and they face only a freeze in 2002. There's nothing in the current regulation of methyl bromide internationally that prohibits our competitors from continuing to increase the use of methyl bromide at the very time when American farmers are facing a radical disruption of our farming systems due to the loss of methyl bromide.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You can imagine how difficult it will be to compete with countries that have cheap labor, less-stringent regulation, and the use of methyl bromide. As you well know, farmers in California have to adhere to a substantially higher standard of labor, field sanitation, and environmental regulation than our competitors. We also use less methyl bromide per acre than many of our competitors and we've taken significant steps in recent years to reduce emissions. Now none of those things have any relevance, or receive any credit, under the Clean Air Act or the Montreal Protocol. The situation is unfair to American farmers. It will cause farmers to go out of business, to reduce acreage, to pull out orchards. And that will have a substantial impact on the communities where we produce our crops.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that we have no inherent interest in methyl bromide, per se, only in agricultural tools necessary to allow us to be economically viable and competitive in the international marketplace. Our goal is to achieve a level playing field for American farmers. We urge you to consider an amendment to the Clean Air Act that will level the playing field for American farmers and we suggest that you look beyond the Montreal Protocol in determining what constitutes a level playing field. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Riggs appears at the conclusion of the hearing; due to space limitations, the complete statement is on file with the committee.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you. Dr. Ewart.
STATEMENT OF HUGH EWART, VICE-PRESIDENT, SCIENTIFIC AFFAIRS, NORTHWEST HORTICULTURAL COUNCIL
Mr. EWART. Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your invitation to appear today before the subcommittee. I'm Hugh Ewart and I've served as vice-president for scientific affairs for the Northwest Horticultural Council since 1989. This trade organization represents growers and shippers of Northwest tree fruit in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. A large part of the Council's work over the last 50 years has been working on international trade policy issues affecting apple, pear, and cherry exports.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The reason I am here is that the scheduled loss of methyl bromide in 2001 threatens more than $44 million annual return to growers of cherries in the west coast. Many U.S. agricultural crops, including our Northwestern tree fruit, are frequently required to meet strict standards to assure the importing country that no pest, or disease, or phytosanitary concern will be introduced by the crop that is being exported.
Although many of these requirements include field monitoring, pre-harvest treatments at various points, post-harvest quarantine treatments are frequently required to meet the importers' demand for total assurance that no pest or disease will be introduced. Quarantine treatments must not only control the pest and disease of concern to the importing country, but also must be compatible with the laws and regulations of both the exporting and the importing country.
For chemical treatments the following conditions would have to be met before exports could proceed: The expected residue levels must be under the tolerances in both the countries, the treatment must be economically viable for the growers and packers, the quality of the crop following treatment must remain at an acceptable level until consumption, and the treatments must be acceptable to both the purchasers and the consumers of the crop.
Methyl bromide fumigation is frequently the treatment mandated to meet the requirements for fresh fruit protocols. For other nations, the use of methyl bromide for quarantine treatment has no phaseout or reduction under the Montreal Protocol. Over many decades of experience, methyl bromide has been shown to control a long list of important pests found in international trade without significantly degrading quality.
We have, many needs for methyl bromide, including preplants, stored crops, structural, sanitation, and preshipment uses. But I'm here mainly to talk about the post-harvest use. These post-harvest uses on tree fruits are carried out in closed chambers where controlled levels of methyl bromide are used and, in the most recent survey, for instance, less than 5.5 percent of methyl bromide use was identified with quarantine treatment of exported U.S. produce. But make no mistake, it's still a very important 0.5 percent.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In order to be more specific about the importance of methyl bromide and the current lack of viable alternatives, I'd like to speak from the point of view of the western U.S. sweet cherry industry. Currently, post-harvest treatment is required for all fresh cherries exported to Japan and Korea. If methyl bromide were eliminated from use in the United States in 2001, the most important export market, Japan, would be lost to U.S. growers. Over the last 3 years, the annual number of 20-pound cartons going to Japan from the west coast has averaged 1.5 million. This equates to a value of more than $45 million. If these export markets were closed off to U.S. producers, a larger supply might depress domestic prices here for the growers. It would definitely reduce grower returns over the long term.
If the provisions of the Clean Air Act regarding methyl bromide become effective in January 2001, we assume that Japan and other countries would continue to have the same phytosanitary concerns. In order for shipments to continue after 2001, we would have to have a new agreement for quarantine security with that country. None of the studies that have been carried out so far for replacements have been deemed to be acceptable. Establishment of alternatives, if available, would be expected to take many years. In the current protocols, using methyl bromide for instance, that we have with Japan for apples and cherries, took more than 20 years to complete. Minor changes to these protocols in the last few years, have taken 4 years or more for even very, very small changes. Even if one were bold enough to say there is a best-case for acceptance of an alternative fumigant, no one can believe that we would have acceptance by Japan by the year 2001.
Any optimism in the short-term would, however, depend upon a suitable replacement. There have been three replacement candidates that we are aware of and have followed in terms of research and I will speak briefly to these three.
The first was what is called a systems approach. It's an approach that uses a combination of orchard pest management, orchard inspections for pests, and packinghouse protocols, including online sorting and inspections. The systems approach is based on experience and documentation for many growing seasons for cherries. This approach has been discussed with the Japanese but we have not found any acknowledgement by them that this approach is going to be acceptable.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The passage of the Food Quality Protection Act has put another doubt in this system because the primary pest of concern to Japan has been the codling moth. Codling moth is currently controlled by organophosphates, chemicals which are under review in the Food Quality Protection Act. Loss of these pesticides without the availability of effective replacements would increase the need for final fumigation of exported fruit to assure importers of the pest-free status of the fruit.
Irradiation has also been looked at. The problems with irradiation are pretty obvious. One problem, of course, is consumer and governmental acceptance of the treatment. Both in the United States and Japan there has been a historic attitude and it's been very negative toward irradiated products. We've also looked at heat treatment. These studies have been funded by Northwest cherry growers; however, in this case, the quality and shelf life of the fruit is less than that of cherries treated with methyl bromide. And the Japanese government's response to these treatments, we believe, if they were successful, might take much time and longer than 2001.
In summary, there are currently no alternatives to methyl bromide for phytosanitary and quarantine treatments acceptable to the major export markets for U.S. sweet cherries and other crops. Since other nations do not operate under the provisions of the Clean Air Act, U.S. crop exporters would be placed on an uneven playing field relative to our competitors. The continued availability of methyl bromide for phytosanitary and quarantine treatments under the Montreal Protocol will result in losses to U.S. ag producers, packers, and marketers but gains for the competing nations. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ewart appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Dr. Ewart.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM B. McLAUGHLIN, III, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, PHILADELPHIA REGIONAL PORT AUTHORITY
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCLAUGHLIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm Bill McLaughlin, I'm the director of communications and governmental affairs at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. Philadelphia is one of this country's major maritime centers. Our regional ports handle approximately 60 million tons of cargo with a value in excess of $16 billion. Public and private maritime facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey alone are responsible for over 18,000 direct jobs producing close to $77 million in State and local taxes. You may be surprised to know that recent statistics encompassing activities at our public and private marine terminals along the Delaware River indicate that this port district is the busiest on the North Atlantic range.
In addition to being here representing the Philadelphia port, I am here on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities, which represents virtually every United States public seaport, as well as the major port agencies in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. AAPA's association members are public entities, mandated by law to serve public purposes, primarily facilitate waterborne commerce and local and regional economic growth. My testimony today reflects the views of AAPA's United States' delegation.
The phaseout of methyl bromide is an issue that I believe has not been adequately dealt with in existing legislation. I hope to be able to enhance your understanding about the impact the ban of methyl bromide will have on the United States. Specifically, I hope to shed light on the importance of methyl bromide as it pertains to international trade, both imports and exports, because the ban of methyl bromide is an international trade issue.
Foreign trade is an increasingly important part of the United States' economy, currently accounting for over 30 percent of our GDP. U.S. exports and imports are projected to increase in value from $454 billion in 1990 to $1.6 trillion in 2010. The volume of cargo is projected to increase from 875 million to 1.5 billion metric tons in 2010. In addition, the overall national economic import of port activities in 1994, those representing international waterborne trade only, generated 16 million jobs, added $783 billion to the GDP and contributed $210 billion in taxes at all levels of government.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In my testimony today, I will stress these three points on the importance of methyl bromide to the continuation of international trade.
First, the efficient flow of international trade depends on methyl bromide because no substitute for methyl bromide is currently available, and none will be available by the 2001 Clean Air Act ban date.
Second, the ban of methyl bromide harms United States' exports by literally eliminating the ability of United States' exporters to sell many products to markets abroad and impede imports by making it impossible to import many fresh foods and other durables that provide consumers with a wide variety of goods at competitive prices. And, third, the international treaty which bans methyl bromide, the Montreal Protocol, recognizing that no substitute for methyl bromide is available and appreciating the importance of the efficient flow of trade, provides a critical use exemption for the uses of methyl bromide related to preshipment and quarantine, while the Clean Air Act provides no such exemption for international trade.
I will urge, on behalf of the AAPA, I will urge Congress to immediately implement legislation which pushes back the ban of methyl bromide until a feasible alternative is available and approved by the Federal Government. If methyl bromide were banned tomorrow, one likely result could be that the USDA could be forced to stop the import of perishables, wood packing, and many other cargoes in order to protect the ecosystem in the United States. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the winter because we import them through American seaports. Without access to methyl bromide, it is conceivable that there would be no grapes and other stone fruits sold at grocery stores during winter months because it would be unsafe to import them.
Methyl bromide is used to treat all types of imported international cargo, perishable and durable goods, at United States' ports. A draft study conducted by an economist at USDA APHIS found that in fiscal year 1996, U.S. food imports, worth about $345 million, or 14 percent of fruit, nut, and vegetable imports, were treated with methyl bromide, 80 percent at United States ports and 20 percent in preclearance programs. Many nonfood imports are also fumigated. More than one-third of the methyl bromide applied to imports at U.S. ports is for entry of nonfood items, particularly cotton and grasswear. Any type of imported cargo that you can imagine has probably been treated at one time or another with methyl bromide. Durable goods and the packaging materials in which the goods are shipped are treated with methyl bromide after an APHIS inspector has determined that either the packing material or the cargo itself is infested with a nonindigenous pest. For example, during the Gulf War, several tanks were shipped back to the United States via the Port of New York and New Jersey. Upon inspection at the port, APHIS inspectors discovered that a nonnative strand of gypsy moths had infested the inside of the tanks. The tanks remained sealed until treated with methyl bromide, when they could safely be unloaded from the hulls of the ship.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The American Association of Port Authorities supports public and private efforts to develop alternatives for methyl bromide. The U.S. Government, crop coalitions, and food manufacturers spent over $16 million last year on research to find alternatives to methyl bromide. Their efforts have not produced any promising options that can be developed by the Clean Air Act ban date of 2001. Research to find alternatives should continue. However, until a feasible alternative exists, a ban of methyl bromide will unnecessarily disrupt the flow of international trade. The USDA has not approved substitute treatments for almost all international shipping uses of methyl bromide. APHIS can better explain the reasons why no alternative has yet been reliable enough to change the regulatory requirements.
My time is up. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope the entire statement will be submitted.
Mr. COMBEST. Yes, certainly everyone's entire statements will be submitted. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McLaughlin appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH W. NOLING, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR/EXTENSION SPECIALIST, DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY AND NEMATOLOGY, CITRUS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Mr. NOLING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, let me indicate that it's an honor to be here in an opportunity to participate in what I believe to be a very important hearing.
As a research and extension nematologist with the University of Florida, it is my responsibility, and job, I guess, to develop nematode management strategies which are not only cost effective, but they are also economic, they are environmentally compatible, and they are worker safe. During the past 13 years, I've had an opportunity to research and observe the performance of different management strategies and the degrees to which various pests and cultural practices affect fruit and vegetable production in the state of Florida.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As a statewide specialist, then, I am here, I guess, to provide testimony regarding what I perceive to be the negative impacts that the loss of methyl bromide will have on Florida agriculture and the extent to which viable alternatives exist. I've also served on the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Program. I want to indicate at this point that I don't personally care whether methyl bromide is around next year or 5 years from now. I am very concerned about what I perceive to be a factor which will contribute to the demise of Florida agriculture and I'm very adamant about the development and implementation of strategies which will notwhich will sustain the viability and the vitality of Florida agriculture, particularly with regard to the competitive impacts that Mexico has had on the shrinkage in Florida acreage and farm profitability in recent years.
You will hear, I am sure, during the course of these hearings those who will propose the existence of many technically feasible and economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide. These claims, for the most part, I believe, are predicated on a mere pittance of research, or research performed, more importantly, outside of the State of Florida which may have little or no direct applicability or transferability back into the State of Florida. At the same time I should indicate that research has demonstrated that there are some alternatives which have demonstrated encouraging results. However, their long-term applicability has not been demonstrated, particularly in Florida with its unique soils and subtropical environmental conditions and conditions conducive for pest outbreak and crop damage.
Please recognize that every currently defined proposed alternative at their present stages of research and development come with certain constraints or incompatibilities which will affect their technical feasibilities and, more importantly, their economic viabilities. The adoption of these alternatives will involve tradeoffs of one sort of another, all of which can have tremendous impact on Florida agriculture. In addition, and contrary to persistent claim, the extent to which we can rely on these as either short-term or long-term management tactics in the absence of methyl bromide has not been scientifically, statistically, or practically established.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I cannot overemphasize the difficulty of providing simple descriptions of the viabilities of these proposed alternatives, as the appropriateness of a given alternative or alternative system is very depending on a variety of interrelated factors such as climate, market, pest level and presence, land, labor and resource input availabilities, as well as soil type and conditions to name but a few. The complex interaction of these factors requires choice of best alternatives to be developed on a field-by-field basis. At present, it is not possible to provide the level of detail required to make this analysis or formulate a prescription, if your will, for all of the crop production systems currently utilizing methyl bromide. And, as such, it is erroneous to conclude, until more comprehensive evaluations are made, for everyone to declare that an alternative is technically feasible and economically viable.
Allow me for a moment to address what this one State, the State of Florida, has done with regard to resolving the problems and issues around methyl bromide. Since 1993, when methyl bromide was identified as a class 1 ozone-depleting compound, and a phaseout established in 2001 under the Clean Air Act, the University ofmany, many different scientists within the University of Florida began work on what constituted both chemical and nonchemical alternatives. A brief summary of these studies in Florida show that no single equivalent replacement, either chemical or nonchemical, current exists which exactly matches the broad spectrum efficacy of methyl bromide. A summary of alternative chemical research shows that a chemical cocktail, if you will, of different fumigants, and a separate but complimentary weed control herbicide treatment will be required to achieve satisfactory pest control in crop yields.
It is not clear, however, at this time, whether these treatments that I've just proposed to you will survive the environmental scrutiny of our regulatory agencies, or ultimately be adopted by the growers, due to the significantly increased needs for protective equipment required for all workers within the fields. The breadth and focus of research at the University of Florida is not confined exclusively to chemical research. Rather the research encompasses many other nonchemicals, including the use of cover crops; nematode resistant crop varieties; organic amendments; solarization; biological control, paper and mulch technologies, and emission reductions; natural product pesticides; super heated water or hot water and steam; crop rotation; supplemental fertilization; and fallowing.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The results of these nonchemical studies have been encouraging, but in most cases should be construed as incomplete from a soil pest control or crop yield perspective. For example, I've personally worked on the use of hot-water technologies for the past 3 years, while a previous period the objective was to inject hot water at a temperature of 230 degrees in hopes of elevating soil temperatures to level which would then be lethal to soil-borne pests.
What we soon discovered is that there were many constraints and incompatibilities of the use of this system. The speed of operation was slow, less than a quarter of mile per hour, which meant you would only treat 1 acre per day, rather than the 40 that was typical with the use of methyl bromide. It was very consumptive of water, requiring anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 gallons of water per acre and required 400 to 700 gallons of diesel fuel, all belching CO2 into the atmosphere.
This is a perfect example of a tactic which is considered technically feasible but economically and environmentally nonviable. Like hot water, many of the other nonchemical tactics are only marginally effective, but also impractical, cost prohibitive, or have requirements of their own for specialized equipment and operators. In addition, none of the nonchemical tactics should be considered stand-alone replacement strategies for methyl bromide.
As a result, new field studies evaluating combinations of tactics have been proposed or are currently in progress to establish these cumulative impact toward soil-borne pests, and disease control, and crop yields. However, the lack of sufficient research funding and the proximity of the currently-defined phaseout date should be considered as major obstacles towards evaluation, development, and, more importantly, implementation of many of the proposed nonchemical alternatives.
I should also indicate that the research that we've performed in Florida has been confined principally to tomatoes and has only recently been expanded to include strawberries. These are many, many other crops within the State of Florida, such as peppers, eggplants, cucurbits, cut flowers, caladiums, and ornamentals, that still require a considerable amount of discovery-type research. The impacts of double cropping have also not been considered for any of the crops identified above. It is often the cropit is also the benefits from the first crop receiving methyl bromide and the residual activity transferred to the second crop which sustains the economic profitability of farming systems within Florida.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 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 the final analysis, the future success for development of effective soil, pest, and disease control in Florida crops now dependent on methyl bromide, will require, as it's been indicated before, integrated approach involving combinations of multiple tactics.
In general, commercial development and expanded use of integrated pest management tacticsand I want to emphasize ''expanded'' because it doesn't imply that IPM is not practiced nowit's practiced already in large degree within the State of Florida, will depend on overcoming a number of technical, environmental, and economic constraints. For example, IPM cannot be implemented until additional target-specific management tactics become available in the future and until economically feasible programs for monitoring and characterizing pest densities in the field are developed.
Please recognize that methyl bromide has been a critical pest management tool to many U.S. farmers for the past 30 years, and a delay in the ban until 2005 would not only bring the United States in line with other developed countries under the Montreal Protocol treaty, but mitigate potential competitive impacts with developing countries who are not obligated to phaseout the compound until much later. Most importantly, a delay would provide U.S. scientists more time to develop appropriate alternatives to methyl bromide. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Noling appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT MONTGOMERY, WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS MANAGER, CARGILL, INC., ON BEHALF OF THE NORTH AMERICAN MILLERS' ASSOCIATION
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MONTGOMERY. Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant in the grain milling industry. I'm here representing the North American Millers' Association. I'm going to talk about something a little different than what you've heard about recently. I'm going to talk about space fumigation, or structural fumigation.
The North American Millers' Association has 45 member companies; we operate 173 wheat and corn mills in the United States; we're located in 34 States; we represent 90 percent of the total U.S. capacity of wheat and corn dry-milling; and our aggregate production capacity is more than 150 million pounds of products a day. The company I work for, Cargill, Inc., operates 19 flour mills in the United States. Our mills are located in Texas, California, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, and Utah. We also have dry corn mills in Illinois and Indiana. Our capacity is producing over 25 million pounds of wheat, flour, and corn dry products every day.
I'm responsible for the engineering and operations management of our U.S. flour mills that I mentioned. I'm also involved and responsible for our wheat and rice mills and pasta plants in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and India. I have 19 years of experience with Cargill, the first 2 years I was in the oilseed business and the balance I've been in flour milling. I've developed a pretty good understanding of how to keep pests out of the food we manufacture.
Why does our industry use methyl bromide? Mr. Chairman, I can give you an example of our mill in Texas. We produce 2.3 million pounds of flour each day at that mill, which means we have to bring in 50,000 bushels of wheat each day to meet our output capacity. The problem is, when we originate wheat, we receive other things, such as insects, with that wheat. This includes the adults which are relatively easy for us to deal withwe can remove them. But the other things we receive with that wheat is the insect eggs. The eggs are smaller than 150 microns, maybe smaller than a piece of dust on your desk. Many of us have fond memories or our mother or our grandmother baking bread and most recipes said sift the flour prior to putting it in mixing bowl. There is a reason why Grandma or Mom sifted the flour: it was to remove the insects. Fortunately, today, we run our plants in a clean and sanitary manner and Mom or Grandma does not have to sift the flour. Methyl bromide helps us do that. It's a key tool for us in achieving that.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the milling industry, methyl bromide is a highly-effective treatment for ensuring production of high-quality, wholesome food in a sanitary environment free of insects. We fumigate only the mill structure and the equipment within that mill structure. You could liken it to a hospital sterilizing its surgical equipment. We sterilize our plant with methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is not used to fumigate our raw material, either the wheat or the corn. The usage is very similar to other industries such as spice milling, pasta production, rice milling, and other food manufacturing facilities.
Our industry has worked hard, since I've been involved, trying to reduce our usage of methyl bromide. We have long recognized our need to reduce our uses of pesticides overall. In fact, long before any debate about methyl bromide, our association produced this book on sanitation for flour mills and it was a cooperative amongst the flour mills. We do other obvious things such we are engineering out the cracks and crevices that insects can hide in. We have our physical cleaning procedures, such as sweeping, and our methyl bromide dosage over the past several years has dropped to about 25 percent of what the EPA approved level is for treatment. As I said earlier, we don't treat grain with methyl bromide so, of course, there is no residue present on our finished food.
The industry has made efforts to find alternativesthere are people, and I've heard some today, claiming that we have a whole host of alternatives. That's simply not true for our application. The industry is experimenting widely with potential alternatives, and we have mixed success. This includes high heat treatments, and they have shown some promise. We have a mill in Virginia that we are treating with high heat. It's a relatively new mill, concrete structure and we can do that, but the majority of the mills in the United States are older structures and they can't hold that heat for a period of time to effectively kill all stages of insects. And we also have concerns about the structural integrity of the mills under this high heat treatment. It is also expensive to heat treat, you have to change your sprinkler heads and many other changes.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other aspect in heat treatment is it takes twice as long as methyl bromide, thus it costs lots more money in down time. For example, a typical 10,000 hundredweight miller produces a million pounds a day, similar to our new mill in Stockton, CA. It would take an additional 2 dayswe would lose about $240,000 in sales revenue in being down that additional 2 days. The mill I used as an example in Texas earlier, that's over twice the size and we lose over half a million dollars in revenue in keeping that plant down for heat sterilization. We also have to scramble to serve our customers in those situations because our customers still need flour.
What are we asking for? We're not asking for this important food safety tool forever; we're merely asking for more time, more years, to discover alternatives and fine-tune them. The industry's working hard on that task, but simply will run out of time before the ban takes place. Congress must pass H.R. 2609. I've traveled overseas in the past few years and I've had the opportunity to appreciate what we have in the United States much more than I did. We produce safe food in the United States and methyl bromide is a tool that we use to help us achieve that. We do not want to jeopardize our ability to produce wholesome food products in a sanitary environment while this attention to cleanliness is required by government. More importantly, it's expected by our consumers.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity and will be pleased to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Montgomery appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Montgomery.
STATEMENT OF RODRIGO RODRIGUEZ-KABANA, PROFESSOR, PLANT PATHOLOGY AND NEMATOLOGY, AUBURN UNIVERSITY
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity and the honor you extend me to present some information on methyl bromide. I am a professor at Auburn University, where I have been doing work since 1965 on the soil-borne pests and nematodes. My specialty is the integration of pest suppression technologies for development of low-input cropping systems that permit long-term profitable production of agronomic and horticultural crops. I have served since 1992 in the Methyl Bromide Technical Operations Committee of the Montreal Protocol as chairman of the Subcommittee on Soil Fumigation.
I have two general points to make today to you. First, in spite of the widespread use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant in some parts of the world, it is important to realize that there is no single crop that cannot be produced successfully without methyl bromide. It is also important to understand that the use of methyl bromide in crop productions is exceptional and not the rule, since, on a worldwide basis, it is not needed for the production of the immense majority of crops. Second, while methyl bromide is clearly effective at sterilizing soil and killing pests, let us not lose the point that it is indisputably a pesticide that is very toxic to humans and a significant ozone-depleting agent.
On the matter of alternatives, Mr. Chairman, the worldwide experience gathered during the last decade from work on alternatives to methyl bromide allows for the following statements. There is no place in the world where soil fumigation with methyl bromide is so essential that it cannot be successfully replaced with alternative techniques. There are many alternative technologies, as already mentioned several times, that can replace methyl bromide in all its uses as a soil fumigant. While some of these alternatives already mentioned are still under study and development, there are others that are already in commercial use. Among the specific alternatives that have proven successful in the replacement of methyl bromide in the United States and aboard there are many: steaming, soil solarization, biofumigation, the use of artificial substrates, resistant varieties, grafting of both annual and perennial plants, the addition of compost and organic matter to soil.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Most successful has been the development of production systems based on integrated pest management. These systems encompass the use of various alternative methods to maintain pest pressures at levels below the point where significant crop damage is sustained. The specific alternative methods used to replace methyl bromideI underline thisvary according to crop and location. We have examples mentioned in the United States, in Florida, in Georgia, Alabama, California, of mixtures of registered fumigants 1,3-D, chloropicrin, and metam sodium. Solarization in the United States, the heating of soil by solar energy and covered with plastic, has been tried successfully in Texas, California, and other western States, even in areas of high cloudiness, such as my State and Florida, with appropriate modification, it has been shown that it can replace the equivalent to methyl bromide. The combination of some of the old fumigants with solarization, such as metam sodium, has shown to be a good substitute for methyl bromide in California and other parts of the world, Israel, Spain, Italy.
There are many examples of crop-rotation systems in field and in greenhouse production where the use of pest resistant plants or pest resistant varieties are carefully positioned in the production cycle to keep soil-borne and other pests at levels below the point where they cause damage. There are numerous examples of these systems in the Southeast and other parts of the Nation.
And I can go on listing examples of alternatives but I think the point has been made repeatedly that there are many techniques and that the techniques vary according to the location and the crop.
Development and adoption, and that's what we're talking about, adoption, of alternatives to methyl bromide in a particular area depend directly on the amount of knowledge available on pest biology and the will to invest in research to acquire new knowledge. Closely linked with this is the ability of researchers and producers to accept change and contemplate new ways of dealing with our pest problems. One of the main impediments to the adoption of alternative technologies is, indeed, the retention of methyl bromide used in our fields.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Direct investment on research for alternatives to methyl bromide in the United States has been for the most part limited to short-term solutions involving typically the replacement of methyl bromide by combinations of other chemicals or ways to use the chemicals. These chemicals are for the most part, and it hasn't been said here, old and inherited from research done in the 1940's and 1950's. There has been only limited work, and I underline this, to develop long-term sustainable production systems that do not require methyl bromide or any other fumigant. Investment on research for alternatives to methyl bromide in our Nation has been localized and has not involved the full power of the U.S. agricultural research establishment. Consequently, today we have a situation where whole concepts on alternatives to methyl bromide that are used commercially in other countries are not being seriously considered here.
Mr. Chairman, I have the following recommendations and considerations. The United States must accelerate research on alternatives broadening the research base to include as much of the Nation's pertinent scientific establishment as possible. Emphasis should be given to the development of long-term sustainable systems that not only do not require soil fumigation with methyl bromide, but no fumigation at all. The transfer of alternative technologies to the producers is crucial to the phaseout of methyl bromide. The phaseout of methyl bromide can be the year 2001 without significant disruption in food production and availability or price increases to the consumer, I beg to disagree with some of the testimony today.
And, more importantly, in my opinion, prolongation of the use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant beyond 2001 will seriously delay adoption of alternatives that are known to work but that are considered inconvenient compared with methyl bromide.
I would like to close by saying that extension of the phaseout date beyond 2001 may impair our competitiveness in markets that have or are considering ecolabeling of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and other agricultural products. It hasn't been mentioned here today, but the European Community is presently considering advancing the phaseout date for methyl bromide to the year 2001. The EC has adopted an integrated pest management system that prohibits the use of methyl bromide and which will give their producers a definite market advantage over those who continue to use methyl bromide.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rodrigo Rodriguez-Kabana appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much.
Mr. DOOLEY. I appreciate all the testimony and Dr. Rodriguez-Kabana, I appreciate the research you've done and the development of alternatives and I think that is what we are all looking for. I guess my one question would be, with some of your research, which you contend that there cost-effective alternatives, do you think there's any justification then that we would allow developing countries to the year 2015 to phaseout use of methyl bromide?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Sir, it's specifically the problem that I have is with the 2015 in Mexico and Central America. The facts are, and they were mentioned that, right now in Mexico they use relatively little methyl bromide. That is not to say that they will not increase, indeed they have been increasing use exponentially. Methyl bromide has been made available to them by some of our companies, fumigating companies that go into Mexico, and some of our producers that produce with methyl bromide in Mexico. So let's get that clear.
Now, where the problem lies is in competitiveness. Questions that you have to raise is with or without methyl bromide, can we still compete with Mexico and Central America? I raise that question. Secondly, it's a trade issue. I'm not a specialist in the trade issue, but it seems to me that the deal was not cut by
Mr. DOOLEY. I guess my question to you is one, which you are basically contending that there is not scientific justification based on even financial or fiscal or economic grounds to justify the extension of the use of methyl bromide beyond the year 2001. If you do accept that, then is there any scientific justification to allowing developing countries to use methyl bromide to the year 2015, regardless of the economic impacts in terms of the competitiveness? Is there any scientific justification for that?
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Absolutely not.
Mr. DOOLEY. OK.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Other than that, and in Mexico and in some parts of Costa Rica, for example, they have good alternatives. So, this to me, from a technical point of view, isn't justified.
Mr. DOOLEY. And so, then, the agreement that was negotiated certainly is, in regards to the longer term phaseout, that, from your perspective there was really no scientific justification for that.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. No.
Mr. DOOLEY. In terms of an alternative, we had one of the gentlemen testify from California on strawberries. What would you consider to be a viable alternative to methyl bromide for preplant fumigation?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Well, my experience does not involve strawberries, so I will have to rely on what is published and what my discussion was with colleagues that do involve that. There are systems of nonfumigation. They involve either the use of chemicals and solarization. They involve things such as cropping system. The sequence of production has to vary.
Mr. DOOLEY. Mr. Riggs, what are people paying to rent ground that is suitable for strawberry production in the Watsonville area?
Mr. RIGGS. The rent for agricultural land along the coast where we produce most of the strawberries can range anywhere from $800 or $1,200 in some of the districts to as high as $2,000 per acre, per year in the northern districts.
Mr. DOOLEY. So, then, if we were talking about a cropping alternative that might involve any fallowing of that type of land, is that anything that would beor even going to lesser-valued crops, is that something that's economically feasible?
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RIGGS. I think if you drive around the Salinas Valley, an area I'm very familiar with, just about every inch of farmable land is in production. There just isn't any opportunity to put any of that land aside in a crop rotation system. And assuming that you have some kind of moving jigsaw puzzle with one crop replacing another, logistically you're really not talking about a very viable alternative.
Mr. DOOLEY In terms of a study that you referenced which the professor from Davis engaged in which had the 36 percent reduction in strawberry yields in year one and I think up to 60 percent in subsequent years, was that done without any other alternative? Have they done studies that did utilize some other alternatives?
Mr. RIGGS. Yes, in my written remarks I included a more complete description of Dr. Shaw's research and he did an analysis of about 47 studies on alternatives. The numbers that I addressed were the numbers using no fumigation alternative. His work identified what the data has shown to be the second most likely alternative would result in about a 19 percent reduction in yields. So, one thing that I think is important to remember, and I did mention the competitive environment, and that is, that because of the high cost of land, water, labor, and other regulations, environmental regulations in California, the only way we can successfully compete internationally is to be remarkably more efficient than our competitors and if we lose an important tool that they still have available to them, we lose that ability to be efficient.
Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Cooksey.
Dr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Who has got a background in organic chemistry, biochemistry on the panel?
Mr. EWART. I have a degree in organic chemistry and I've certainly worked somewhat in biochemistry, but I don't want to go far too far into the biochemistry.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. COOKSEY. Don't worry. I took my organic chemistry and biochemistry in the 1960's and that's a few years ago.
Mr. EWART. That was a good time. [Laughter.]
Dr. COOKSEY. A question. What percentage of the methyl bromide, and I do remember enough that this is an organic chemical and not an inorganic chemical, I'm correct there?
Mr. EWART. Right.
Dr. COOKSEY. What percentage of it is treated, put into the soil, and what percentage is sprayed onto the foliage of a plant?
Mr. EWART. As far as I know, there's very little use in spraying foliage. There's a lot of use below the soil. In a lot of these other treatments where you actually fumigate the area in which the crop is sitting after it's grown. Personally I'm not familiar with crops that you actually spray methyl bromide on the foliage at the time that the foliage is growing.
Dr. COOKSEY. So most of it is really put into the soil?
Mr. EWART. Into the soil
Dr. COOKSEY. It's usedin your case, in your flour mills, you are saying that it is used to put on the equipment that is used to make, to convert the wheat to flour?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. We actually release it in the building, inside the building, then the gas penetrates the equipment.
Dr. COOKSEY. So it does get into the flour then?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. No. We empty the mills out and we do not treat the products or the raw materials, just the building.
Dr. COOKSEY. Just the building.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MONTGOMERY. The space and the equipment in that building.
Dr. COOKSEY. And where does it go after it runs off? How do you dispose of it in a flour mill?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. It dissipates into the atmosphere.
Dr. COOKSEY. OK. Next question. What is the biodegradation process of methyl bromide? Is it always dissipated into the air? Or, if it's put into the soil does it go through a biodegradation process into some other chemicals, or is it maintained as a compound or a molecule of methyl bromide?
Mr. EWART. Methyl bromide is very reactive with a lot of substrates. In fact, as an organic chemist it was something we used a lot to try out experiments in laboratory classes. So it is a very reactive material. It will react with almost any base to form materials, including bromide ion as the inorganic part. The methyl group is put on part of the organic molecule. It breaks down pretty easily. There are also, in the soil, biochemical processes by which it is broken down, again to bromide ion. The only volatile material basically is methyl bromide itself. The breakdown products are basically nonvolatile. And so as the breakdown occurs, you don't have anything coming out.
Dr. COOKSEY. So, if I were to go buy a container of methyl bromideis it a liquid or a gas?
Mr. EWART. It's a gas; it's a liquid under pressure and then it becomes a gas as it's released.
Dr. COOKSEY. Another question, and I assume most of this hearing is about methyl bromide, but one of my great passions before I got this new day job was to fish on the Louisiana coast inside fishing bays, saltwater bays, for speckled trout, and redfish. And, incidentally, we are having a great season now and for those people that think that oil and water don't mix, the best to catch a lot of fish on the Louisiana coast is right around a rig. If you can't catch them in the usual places, you can always go around and circle a rig and fill up your boat. So, for you people in California, you are missing a lot of good manmade barriers and we're glad that we're pumping your oil that you're buying.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, anyway, there is a problem. There is an area a little bit further off the coast than I usually fish that's a dead zone and it's been said that this dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where there are no fish is due to agricultural chemical runoff that comes down the Mississippi River from Minnesota down, through all the States in the Mississippi Valley, and it empties out in the Mississippi River. What chemicals do you think is causing that? Do you think that's the likely cause of this dead zone? And this is going out in deeper water for bigger fish. What would you attribute that to?
Mr. EWART. Well, first of all, I could say, like I said before, methyl bromide would break down fairly quickly.
Dr. COOKSEY. It doesn't sound like methyl bromide is the offending agent, but there are some other agricultural chemicals.
Mr. EWART. There are a lot of other agricultural chemicals and many of those are ones that are more persistent. I certainly couldn't speculate as to what the individual materials are, but if it's actually a river where it's flowing down and they all are residing in one spot, I would find that difficult to understand why that would be coming from farm runoff versus from some other source.
Dr. COOKSEY. Yes. Well, I would also point out that there are a lot of petrochemical industries along the river, and particularly along the river in Louisiana, and in the past there's been some less-than-ideal discharge into the river too and then there are places, there are cities that dump their sewage into the river too, so all of these could contribute to it, but agricultural chemicals are getting a good portion of the blame, whether it's right or wrong. As you know in this field there tend to be a lot of anecdotal examples, there's a lot more of what I consider to be fiction, and sometime not necessarily real pure science, used in getting messages across. And I honestly don't know the answer but there is a dead zone out there.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Incidentally, thank you, you sort of refreshed my memory on organic and biochemistry.
Mr. EWART. Thank you.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you.
Mr. Montgomery, do we import flour?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Some flour comes in from Mexico, Canada.
Mr. COMBEST. Do you know if it is traditional in those mills in Mexico that they would use methyl bromide for the same purposes that you do?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, to my knowledge they do.
Mr. COMBEST. They do?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes.
Mr. COMBEST. In an instance such as that, earlier I had pursued a line of questioning when the EPA and USDA witnesses were at the table about our position of competition in the future if, for example, the ban on methyl bromide moves forward in the time frame that it is scheduled, and that in Mexico, I believe it is 2015 before the elimination of methyl bromide is agreed to take place there. And they said that if a product that was coming into this country anywhere from aboard as a way of an import had residue, that it would be detectable and would be illegal. But in the case of flour, as the way you use it, one would not be able to detect the fact that methyl bromide had been used in that plant.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. That's correct. Actually, our industry participated in a methyl bromide-residue study in 1993 to meet the EPA reregistration requirements and in that test we even treated the grain which is not a
Mr. COMBEST. Prior to milling, obviously?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, and we treated the grain with exaggerated levels of methyl bromide. There was no measurable methyl bromide residues in the flour.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COMBEST. In the flour?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Right.
Mr. COMBEST. You have indicated that there really are no alternatives, feasible alternatives to the milling industry now for the same purposes?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Correct. You could say, well, build new flour mills. A typical flour mill cost $30 million, a million-pound-a-day flour mill costs $30 million. You know someone could take a position, just build new flour mills across the United States that you can heat up and use heat sterilization. I still have a concern about heat sterilization. When we did our engineering for our flour mill in California, we were in an earthquake zone, a seismic 5, I believe; we were close to the San Andreas Fault. We asked the engineers to consider if we were to heat this building to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and try and hold that temperature for many, many hours to sterilize this plant and they were not willing to incorporate that into their engineering because there are so many unknowns about what that type of intense heat will do to a building structure over time. So, I don'tmy personal opinion is heat is not a long-term answer to this.
Mr. COMBEST. Well, in the testing where you've done with it, is it substantially more expensive than methyl bromide?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes. It will cost you for a typical medium-sized mill about a quarter of a million dollars just to set up to do it and it's going to cost you the lost production and twice as amount of time to do it and I guess the variable cost each time, I assume methyl bromide will start increasing in price so just the variable cost of energy versus methyl bromide might be relatively close.
Mr. COMBEST. Would it put you in an unfair trading position if you were competing with flour that was milled in Mexico in which methyl bromide could be used to sterilize the plant, versus having to go to an alternative if you were not able to use methyl bromide?
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MONTGOMERY. There's no question in my mind that we would have higher costs in whatever that alternative was that we came up with. As I mentioned today, there is not a clear alternative that will work, but clearly they would have a lower cost in producing that flour relative to keeping their plants insect infestation free.
Mr. COMBEST. Let me recognize Mr. Moran, if he had any questions since he hadn't had the opportunity before.
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I would prefer not to ask questions, not having heard what was spoken. This is a question
Mr. COMBEST. That's unusual.
Mr. MORAN. Certainly in Congress, but I'm new here, Mr. Chairman, and certainly I'll learn how to speak without knowing what I'm talking about before long. [Laughter.]
Mr. COMBEST. You are going to have to change your ways or you won't succeed around here.
Mr. MORAN. The question was whether to come and listen to methyl bromide or to go next door. And I decided to come join you.
Mr. COMBEST. Obviously one of the things that makes our job interesting is the fact that there are varieties of opinions by people who would certainly qualify as experts, but I think one of the consensuses that has run throughout the discussion today is a recognition of the potential impact that will occur on agriculture and food products without a viable alternative being made available. In each of youror without viable alternatives, depending upon the type of agriculture product that is being treated. But in your, all of your, assessments, are you specifically aware of alternatives in the areas in which you might be experts that are available today, or that even have very promising hopes of being alternative uses, alternatives to methyl bromide.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RIGGS. If I can just address initially, Mr. Chairman. We, in the California strawberry industry, we have made a substantial investment in research into alternatives to methyl bromide. We have been doing research on alternatives to methyl bromide for over 30 years and we've stepped up that research program in 1993 and now our combined efforts on plant breeding and soil plant pathology is close to $1 million a year. So I think we've got a pretty good handle on what the viability of the options are. And, as Dr. Kabana says, yes, you can produce strawberries without methyl bromide. The question is whether or not, for the community of Watsonville, the strawberry industry is going to be an industry that produces $250 million a year in jobs and really the foundation for the emerging middle class in the city of Watsonville. We have strawberry farmers who are producing organically and I would say that the number of farmers that are increasing organic production is steadily increasing. But it still fills a niche market, it's not a solution for 12,000 acres of strawberries in the Salinas Valley.
And I guess the question is not whether the alternatives will allow us to continue to produce strawberries but what will be the economic impact of changing from this cultural pattern to the next. And we do know that there are some alternatives that will cause less disruption to our farming systems than others, and some of those are currently available. There are others that show some promise that are a long way from being registered, and may never be commercially registered or allowed within the regulatory structure in California.
And, again, it is important to emphasize that the regulation of our competitors directly affects the viability of an alternative for us. If everybody loses methyl bromide at the same time, then we can compete on that basis with anybody else in the world. But one of the ironies of the situation is that we receive a grant from the USDA to fund an export marketing program to try to maintain our market share of frozen strawberries in Japan. And our No. 1 competitor for the frozen strawberry business in Japan is going to be India and China in the future, neither of whom are going to be regulated on a methyl bromide basis, so we are going to be fighting to maintain market share when we are facing a very severe economic production difference and that can't be ignored when you talk about what constitutes a viable alternative.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COMBEST. Any other comments? Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. MCLAUGHLIN. As I noted in my testimony, Mr. Chairman, that one technology that shows promise as a quarantine treatment is irradiation, but it's not practical for port operations. The fastest throughput projected for commercial irradiators ranges from 5 to 10 minutes per pallet. We have jumbo reefers arriving at our ports with 6,000 pallets. So you can see that it is impractical to try to use irradiation in a busy port setting where the movement of the goods is essential in terms of speed and precision.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Mr. Chairman, I would like to add that with the crops that I deal with, there are always some alternatives around. The question is of a scale and the questions always bears down to how much knowledge we have in the particular locality. As to the cost of land, I will remind my colleague that in Europe, the cost of land is much higher than in Salinas, and yet, they manage to produce in some areas strawberries. But then it is a question of marketing and how you position your crop and so forth. I don't see, and I stick by my statement, that given enough knowledge, and given the will to do it, we can always find an alternative and there are some already being used, tomatoes, for example.
Mr. COMBEST. Any others?
Mr. EWART. Alternatives have been a key component of a group of people called the Crop Protection Coalition. We've participated with USDA and EPA in research conferences since this issue came to the fore and every year many of us have spent many hours going to those conferences and actually summarizing those results. So, as a group, we've certainly followed everything that has gone around from around the world. We've brought in speakers from every part of the world. So I would say that there are many people who are working to find out what the alternatives are and trying to get them implemented. Today I discussed three alternatives that were the most promising and gave you the reasons why they haven't become true alternatives. But we are continuing to look for other ones.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COMBEST. Dr. Noling.
Mr. NOLING. I'm not sure really how to address this question. I went through a number of alternatives to you and I wish I had an opportunity, I guess, or the time, to kind of run through some of the problems that we've encountered by those. I don't think there would be anybody that would disagree that the foundation of this alternative tactic or strategy should be something like a resistant variety. And, oftentimes, you hear the claim that there are all kinds of them; in fact, there are not. And in nematodes, for example, of the varieties that have demonstrated and documented resistance to nematodes, all of them, just about, there are a few exceptions, have a gene incorporated in these varieties that are very heat unstable, such that under high soil conditions they effectively don't work and losses, substantial losses, can occur.
And I don't know, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the State of Florida's position at a latitude that makes it very hot and with temperatures consistently above these thresholds, that transfer these from resistant to susceptible varieties. We continue to talk about crop rotation. Well, the ability to rotate crops means you have to identify a crop that isn't within the host range, not only of a single pest, but many different pests, and that's been one of the shortcomings and it's not that we haven't attempted to do that, but the ranges of many of the pests that occur in our soils and attack peppers and tomatoes and everything have broad host ranges and they are just as susceptible in many cases to that as tomatoes.
The kind of consequences of many of these, I could go on and on about some of the shortcomings of these, solarization, the use of this clear plastic technology to increase soil temperatures to levels that are going to kill nematodes because of the heat. It's been pretty well documented in Florida that it will work in some places, and it's not unlikely to work as well in others; nematodes are not effectively controlled, there are limitations in terms of the depth in which heat can migrate down intoincreased to levels that are going to kill them. There's already indications that there will be development of thermal power on organisms such that the second time you attempt to solarize that soil, these organisms are going to be more adapted to their environment and they are going to survive these treatments.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And in the long-term, utility or durability of this system may not be there. We don't know that; there are many questions that remain unanswered. The list kind of goes on. When you really critically and comprehensively look at these alternatives, they have some problems. They've been demonstrated to work one place, some place, but they don't work everywhere. They can't be globally extrapolated, if you will.
With that, I guess those are the kinds of comments that I'd like to make and it is going to require a much more concerted effort. It's going to require, I believe, and as Dr. Rodriguez-Kabana has indicated, additional funds that are dedicated to the development of integrated strategies and if you recognize that the permeations here, 10 alternatives, 10 of this, 9 of this, you have to make some decisions on what you are going to look at. You cannot exhaustively look at them all.
Mr. COMBEST. I think, as a general statement, there are alternatives. Whether or not they are economically feasible, whether or not they are realistic, whether or not they work in every instance is the question. I believe the committee's goal would be, the optimum would be to have an alternative that is as economically feasible and as is as widely useable as what currently is being used. And I think we are a long way from being there. Short of that, I doubt if the committee is going to be satisfied with accepting some alternative that in some person's mind may be an alternative. There are usually alternatives to everything, whether or not they are acceptable, whether or not they are economically feasible, I think, is the question we're trying to get at. The optimum for us would be to have some other chemical that was completely safe and could be used and was not ozone depleting and did the same kind of job at the same cost or less than methyl bromide and, I think, we're a long way from being there.
Mr. Pombo, did you have additional questions?
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Rodriguez-Kabana, you testified in answering questions you felt that the problem with the alternatives was the lack of knowledge in a particular area to implement some of these alternatives. When USDA and EPA testified, they were very skeptical that any of the alternatives that have been developed to this point would work and that it would take beyond the 2001 deadline before we finally got to the point where they would work. Obviously, from your testimony you disagree with that. Why do you believe that they are not distributing this knowledge to the farmers around the country so that they could implement these alternatives?
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. There are several things here. I think everyone recognizes that methyl bromide is unusual. We useit is a pesticide that is used at a very high rate and it is generally effective in most locations. Yes, everybody recognizes that. It's going to be almost impossible to come on a one-to-one type of thing. And you get into, well, you have this array of alternatives, solarization, for example, as Dr. Noling mentioned. Obviously it will not work in another climate. You look for an area, you have to have a knowledge of the solar incident, the number of cloudy days, the orientation of the beds, the shape of the beds, the type of pest that you are confronting, some are more easily killed by solarization than others. That is what I mean. If you have this type of knowledge, then you can implement solarization in one place, but maybe a few miles
Mr. POMBO. Would solarization work on tomatoes?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Oh, yes, in the right place. In the right place, with the right technology has been demonstrated to work in Florida.
Mr. POMBO. How long would it take to develop solarization in the United States and find the band where it will work? If Dr. Noling said it will not work in certain parts of Florida because it is too hot, I would suspect that certain parts of California would be the same problem. You just said it wouldn't work in the North because
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. No. Excuse me. Solarization is dependent on the amount of heat that we can trap from solar incidents, OK? So, where you have low solar incidents, a lot of cloudy days, you have a problem because you cannot trap enough heat. OK. So what he was referring to, Joe, I believe, was that adaptation, that when you start treating soil at high temperatures, you develop organisms that tolerate high temperature, of course. Then I don't know about the statement that some pathogens have adapted to that, but there is a consensus that a lot of what we call thermophiles, that is heat-loving organisms, develop in reaction to the solarization treatment.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. But it would be different in Florida than it is in Michigan and it would be different in Michigan than it would be California
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. It could be, it could be.
Mr. POMBO. It would be different in the Central Valley in California than it would be in Monterey. How long are we talking about in developing this as an alternative to methyl bromide, even if it was just on tomatoes?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. The technology is already known. The actual physical you-do-this, you-do-that, you-do-that is known, OK? What is missing sometimes is the knowledge what pest do you have there and can they be, is solarization a suitable method for it, not only from the climatic point of view, but also the economical point of view. Why do I say economical? Because you have to have long periods of treatment, OK; this is a drawback on it. Usually you are required 2 months or so for the soil has to be covered with plastic and subjected to
Mr. POMBO. The soil has to be covered with plastic?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Right.
Mr. POMBO. Sir, in my area of California, we have literally tens of thousands of acres of tomatoes. It's a multibillion dollar industry in my area of California. Not just the cost of applying the plastic and doing everything that you are talking about, what is the environmental cost of tens of thousands of acres of plastic.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Sir, methyl bromide is applied under plastic.
Mr. POMBO. Well, I'm just looking at my particular area and what we're going through. We obviously grow tomatoes differently than they do in Florida, because I've seen what they do in Florida and it's very, it's very different what they do versus what we do in our area. I can't imagine that you would take a multibillion industry in the central valley of California and say we are going to see if this works next year.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. But this is what I'm talking about. It may not be, that particular methodology may not be suitable to you and you work with something else.
Mr. POMBO. If this doesn't work, then we have to go to something else.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Exactly.
Mr. POMBO. And we're already beyond your 2001 deadline, so what happens to my multibillion dollar industry?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. There have been investments and this is what I alluded to. There have been investments in research since 1993 and so on, OK. We had enough time, then.
Mr. POMBO. You may feel that we have had enough time, but we are not there and we've only got a couple of growing seasons before you're going to tell these guys they can't use it any more, so
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. I can relate because I'm not familiar with this particular situation, although I do feel for you and your constituents, very much so. I work in the field with farmers, I know exactly what you're talking about, I think. And what I can say is I can give you examples of tomato production, high-technology tomato production where no methyl bromide is utilized, and how do they do it? They use things, Joe, such as grafting on annual rootstocks that are resistant to root rot and other soil-borne pests, obviating the temperature problem of resistance, OK. So this is what I meant by investment and doing the research in an imaginative way. That has not been done.
Mr. POMBO. But you testified that you believed that we could meet the goal of 2001.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. Yes, I said that production
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. And you testified that work has not yet been done. How do we get there from here?
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. The production of tomatoes, availability of tomatoes in the United States, that is what I was referring to. The way the research has developed in the last 6, 7 years, there's no question in my mind that some growers are going to suffer because of the inadequacies of our research establishment and the transfer of technologythe failure in the transfer of technology.
Mr. POMBO. I agree with you that some growers are going to suffer. In fact, I believe the entire industry is going to suffer greatly, but I find your statement somewhat inconsistent that you believe we can meet the goal of 2001 and, yet, there's really no alternative that we can go into.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. I have to review what you have down in your area in detail and seeI'm not familiar with that, so I am speaking from ignorance as far as your particular case is concerned. I can see what they have done and what the alternatives that they have tried in relation to your production system.
Mr. POMBO. In my district, tomatoes are nearly a billion dollar industry, grapes are over a billion dollars annually. Obviously, agriculture is the No. 1 industry in my district. I believe that if we met the 2001 deadline the way that you describe, there would be severe losses in those industries. Mr. Riggs testified a few minutes ago about competing with India and China for the Japanese market. I would have to argue you are not going to compete with them for the Japanese market, you are going to compete with them for the United States' market. That is the market you are going to be competing with them on, because they will be able to do things that we can't do and effectively compete with a higher quality product at a cheaper price than what we can produce for in this country.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-KABANA. It's a question that I raise is that the problem, in my mind, is not methyl bromide. It's competition with Mexico and Central America, which will come with or without methyl bromide and that's an issue outside the alternatives.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. I tend to agree with Dr. Noling in that I don't care about methyl bromide. All I care about is that these guys be able to produce a crop with an effective alternative. If you guys decide you don't want methyl bromide any more, that's fine. But what's my alternative? And my guys don't have anything. I'm glad to hear that they've done some things down in Florida and maybe there's some promise in that, but in talking to my farmers, they don't know what they are going to do.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you. Mr. Moran, do you have a question?
Mr. MORAN. Just briefly, Mr. Chairman. I was here earlier for some of the testimony, including that of the EPA, and I was interested, I suppose, particularly, Mr. Riggs, as both the EPA and the Department of Agriculture indicate an interest in working with the industry, finding solutions, finding alterative and, if it appears, that as we approach the year 2001 that methyl bromide phaseout is not going to be acceptable, that there is not an alternative, that they would like to work with Congress and the industry to solve problems. Any indication that that is true and that is happening and when does, approaching 2001, when does that point in time occur that it's too late for Congress to intercede and try to resolve this issue?
Mr. RIGGS. I think that is one of our frustrations and we certainly appreciate the fact that we have a hearing today to discuss this, but this has been a problem since 1993, and we've raised the issue very early on when methyl bromide and the loss of methyl bromide because an issue with USDA that we didn't have a lot of time. In a short production crop like strawberries, it takes us 15 months to do an experiment to determine whether an alternative is viable. So starting in 1993, we said we only have 5 experimental periods between now and the phaseout date. And a lot of the initiatives that the USDA is proposing today are the initiatives that we proposed in 1993. So, I think those are laudable initiatives, but it's really too little, too late. We've got one experimental period between now and the time that we have to start facing the reductions under the Montreal Protocol.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, yes, we appreciate that interest in making those efforts, and we certainly have seen a more aggressive posture with USDA in terms of working with farmers in field-level trials in the last several months, but the Crop Protection Coalition did an analysis of all the research being conducted by land grant universities, individual companies, and USDA back in 1995, and in 1995, USDA acknowledged that virtually all of their research in preplant soil fumigation was in long-term solutions that didn't have a probability of producing results prior to the regulatory deadline. And we suggested at that time that you needed to put more of the resources into the ongoing programs in the land grant universities that were looking at what are we going to do next year and then we'll figure out the long-term biological implications as we go. And that's not to discount the viability of that kind of research, but it wasn't dealing with what we're facing in 24 months.
Mr. MORAN. So when the Department of Agriculture and the EPA talk about as we approach 2001, we're really there. It's time that we move the deadline, that we address this issue now, we don't really havethe window is no longer open for research that is going to solve this problem in a timely-enough fashion?
Mr. RIGGS. Well, I think, I wouldn't want to say we can't afford to do any more research so let's not support the funding for research. We've got a lot of problems to solve with methyl bromide alternatives and we want to continue that kind of work. We're just concerned that saying that is a solution today is not adequate. Saying it needs
Mr. MORAN. A solution under the current time frame.
Mr. RIGGS. Yes. It needs to be done. We want to see it done, we want to support the legislation that calls for increased funding for methyl bromide alternatives research and we've testified year after year that we need more money for alternatives research, but to come in today and say well, that's the solution that is going to solve our problem in the last 18 months, I don't think that is realistic.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MORAN. Do you have the impression that USDA has been an advocate for agriculture in this issue?
Mr. RIGGS. I think they have. I know that we're concerned about the status that USDA has in the U.S. delegation. We know that there are people within USDA on the U.S. delegation to the Montreal Protocol that have expressed grave concerns about the viability of alternatives and from the outside it appears to us that that hasn't been given a lot of credence.
Mr. MORAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Moran.
In addition to all of the witnesses that have supplied all of the testimony, we have received testimony and information from a wide variety of additional interested groups, including several members of both the House and the Senate.
I want to thank you, again, for your attendance today and your assistance in this matter, and, hopefully, this is one that we can solve. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon at 4:46 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Testimony of Paul Stolpman
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you on methyl bromide and on EPA's efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. As you know, Mr. Chairman, this protective layer is essential to life on this planet, shielding us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Starting in 1977 when Nobel prize-winning American scientists first discovered the link between chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions into the atmosphere and depletion of the Earth's ozone layer, the United States Congress, industry, researchers, policy makers, and consumers have led the way in worldwide commitment and action. Since the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, over 160 countries have joined efforts to simultaneously phaseout ozone depleting substances while finding effective and safe alternatives used in a wide array of applications such as refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, metal and electronics cleaning, foam blowing, and fire suppression. We have made tremendous progress, as evidenced by recent measurements of worldwide declines in atmospheric chlorine concentrations.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Nevertheless, remaining challenges are enormous. World ozone layer recovery hinges on global compliance with the Montreal Protocol as currently drafted and the international community continues to work to achieve global reductions in remaining uses. Recent scientific data from satellites and balloons highlighted unusually low ozone levels in the Arctic, following a pattern previously only seen at the Antarctic ozone hole. The National Cancer Institute recently reported that while incidence of all other cancers have declined, the rate of malignant skin cancer in the United States continues to increase. Scientific findings like these underscore the importance of continued vigilance if we are to be successful.
You have asked me here today to address the methyl bromide phaseout. Methyl bromide is one of the most commonly used pesticides in the United States and for the past 40 years has been used by American farmers and associated industries for soil fumigation, postharvest treatment of perishables and nonperishables at storage facilities, and quarantine purposes. Given these diverse applications, we understand concerns within the agricultural community about an eventual methyl bromide phaseout. Indeed, similar concerns were expressed by users of CFCs and other ozone depleters prior to finding acceptable alternatives allowing for their successful phaseout. In the majority of those cases, we have already achieved the successful replacement of these substances thanks to industry leadership and public-private collaboration.
EPA's efforts on methyl bromide have been taken through a number of avenues. We have worked with USDA, research institutions, extension agents, and growers around the country to find and develop alternatives to methyl bromide. We have supported efforts to move alternatives out of the laboratory and onto the farm, where target pests must be effectively controlled. While there is no one alternative for all of its many uses, today there are numerous innovative chemical and non-chemical strategies and tools that effectively control many of the pests for which methyl bromide is used either available now or at an advanced stage of development. The Agency's assistance program has allocated small grants for on-farm studies to strawberry and tomato growers, the nursery and forestry industries, and tree fruit growers. In addition, the Agency has developed an extensive outreach program to inform the agricultural community about available alternatives. We strongly support the $16.6 million for research in the fiscal year 1999 budget on methyl bromide alternatives that the President has proposed in USDA's Agriculture Research Service. We will continue to focus our efforts to ensure that safe and effective substitutes for methyl bromide are developed as expeditiously as possible.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA also regulates methyl bromide due to its direct effects on public health and the environment. In addition to its damaging effects on stratospheric ozone, methyl bromide is classified by the Agency as a Toxicity category I pesticide on a scale of IIV, with I being most acutely toxic for short-term, acute health effects. It is an acute neurotoxin, and even in relatively small doses can kill, or irreversibly damage major organs, like the liver and kidneys. As a result, methyl bromide is controlled as a restricted use pesticide, to be used only by trained and certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision. Additionally, personal protective equipment and other use precautions are required. Data have recently been submitted to EPA in support of requests for reregistration of this pesticide under the 1988 amendments to FIFRA.
Methyl bromide is regulated under the Clean Air Act because of its ozone depleting potential. On a molecule per molecule basis, bromine from methyl bromide is 40 to 50 times more destructive to stratospheric ozone than chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons. Based on a new understanding of how bromine affects stratospheric ozone, the 1994 international science assessment under the Montreal Protocol identified methyl bromide as a powerful ozone depleting substance and a global production phaseout was agreed upon. Industrialized countries have agreed to a phaseout by 2005 while developing countries must phaseout methyl bromide by 2015.
Obviously, the current Clean Air Act deadline of 2001 binds us to a more aggressive timetable, which presents a disparity with other industrialized countries under the Montreal Protocol. This administration has consistently expressed a willingness to consider targeted legislative changes if we approach the 2001 methyl bromide phaseout date and find that alternatives do not exist for control of key pests. However, we oppose proposals that would more broadly open the Clean Air Act or put the United States out of compliance with the Montreal Protocol.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The dilemma we face with methyl bromide is one that we have faced before and solved beforea popular and effective pesticide that unfortunately has serious human health and environmental risks that we must address. Through laws such as FIFRA and the Food Quality Protection Act, Congress has spearheaded efforts to solve such problems while still guaranteeing a safe and plentiful food supply. Federal agencies including FDA, USDA, and EPA have had tremendous success in ensuring food safety while providing farmers opportunities for sustained yields and healthy conditions. We must continue working to find and promote effective alternatives to methyl bromide, and other ozone-depleting substances, otherwise the world community will not be able to stop damage to the ozone layer and reduce the risk of skin cancers and other health effects for future generations.
We remain committed to complying with our domestic and international obligations to protect public health and the environment. We look forward to working with Congress and all involved parties to protect the interests of American farmers while meeting these obligations.
Testimony of Keith Pitts
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you the progress that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made to date on research for alternatives to methyl bromide. I would like to commend this subcommittee for their interest in an issue that is of significant importance to U.S. agricultural producers, agricultural trade and the global environment.
Under the leadership of Secretary Glickman and Deputy Secretary Rominger, USDA is conducting an aggressive research program but recognizes that much more work is still needed to develop effective alternatives by the January 1, 2001 phaseout date for methyl bromide. Under Secretary for Research, Economics and Education, Dr. Miley Gonzalez, and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Administrator, Dr. Floyd Horn, have been working with methyl bromide users and scientists to ensure that our research is focused on high priority needs and the most critical projects. That work will continue. The Department has also recently initiated some other steps to improve our efforts to identify, develop and meet the most critical needs for methyl bromide users.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Effective pest management and international competitiveness are important facts of life for farmers regardless of the availability of a specific control measure or the existence of a particular regulation. However, the role played by methyl bromide in agricultural production and trade has continued to be of significant importance and concern to U.S. producers.
Methyl bromide provides highly effective control for a broad spectrum of economically important pests that has led to its important role in preplant use for over 100 crops. Its largest use is as a soil fumigant for intensive production of high value crops such as strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, melons, and eggplants. In addition, methyl bromide is particularly important for quarantine treatments because of its effectiveness against a large variety of indigenous and exotic pests and because it can be easily and economically applied to both small and large shipments. A number of commodities exported from the United States must be fumigated with methyl bromide in order to comply with the quarantine requirements of recipient countries. For example, the most critical quarantine use of methyl bromide to U.S. agriculture is its role, currently, as the only practical emergency treatment to move commodities out of areas quarantined for outbreaks of exotic pest insects such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. In addition U.S. regulations require that a wide array of imported food and non-food commodities be fumigated with methyl bromide as a condition of entry.
USDA has directed substantial resources and expertise, with the support of Congress and in cooperation with growers to conduct an ambitious and aggressive research program to address the widest range of methyl bromide issues. ARS has for many years devoted significant research resources to approaches with potential for replacing methyl bromide. Since the 2001 phaseout deadline for methyl bromide was announced, ARS has increased its efforts to find alternatives. Spending for methyl bromide alternatives increased from $7.4 million in fiscal year 1993 to the current $14.6 million for fiscal year 1998 which, in 1998, is about equally split between preplant and postharvest alternatives. Many of the related research projects, particularly those related to alternatives for strawberries and tomatoes, have been developed in consultation with the affected user community.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In an effort to enhance our field trial and technology transfer efforts and to provide a larger role for U.S. growers in the research agenda, USDA, for fiscal year 1999, has requested an additional $2 million for a grower-developed, extramural research program to address high priority needs.
In the area of soil treatment, there are a limited number of chemicals which are registered and available for use as alternatives, and most of them have been on the market for years. As individual products, they have not replaced methyl bromide because, used alone, they are generally less efficacious than methyl bromide. However, preliminary results from Florida field trials using a combination of 1,3-D (Telone, a fumigant), chloropicrin (a fumigant) and Tillam (herbicide) are promising. The combination appears to be as nearly as effective as methyl bromide in controlling diseases and weeds in tomato production, a crop which is one of the largest methyl bromide users. For some locations, limitations may exist for using this product. USDA remains committed to working with all parties to further develop this option.
Most of ARS' preplant research on methyl bromide alternatives has concentrated on non-chemical methods which, when used in combination with the available chemicals, could produce pest control results equal to or better than methyl bromide soil fumigation. Promising non-chemical technologies include development of disease resistant varieties and root stocks, biocontrol methods for certain disease organisms, soil solarization, and cultural practices such as crop rotations. However, given the short time available before the January 1, 2001 deadline, research on the few existing chemicals is more advanced than for non-chemical alternatives. In general, field validation research is currently being conducted on many of these non-chemical and chemical alternatives, oftentimes in combination with each other, and researchers are seeing some encouraging progress.
As with soil treatment, many alternatives for postharvest uses are not direct replacements for methyl bromide. The only currently registered alternative fumigant for postharvest uses is phosphine, which is used for stored product and grains. However, there is a candidate fumigant, carbonyl sulfide, that is under study, appears efficacious, and, if registered, may be an alternative for some uses of methyl bromide. Also some current non-chemical post-harvest treatments that can and are being reviewed as potential alternatives for some methyl bromide uses are: hot water dips (papaya), forced-air heat treatments (flour mills), kiln drying (wood products), irradiation (some tropical fruits), pest eradication programs/pest-free zones (apple maggots in the Central Valley of Washington State) and controlled atmospheres (pears for export). Many of these identified or candidate alternatives have limitations, including costs, phytotoxicity, lack of acceptance by U.S. trading partners or consumer resistance. Again, these are issues which USDA can and will be willing to work with the industry and EPA to increase the availability and viability of pest control options.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC An important methyl bromide use is dockside fumigation of commodities coming from abroad which harbor pests. Attention must be focused on this use area to ensure that good, fast acting alternatives are available. United States agriculture and, in some instances, our natural ecosystems are put at extreme risk without an effective emergency fumigant, or other control methods, to disinfest commodities coming from abroad or leaving a quarantined area because of an outbreak of an exotic pest. Unlike the Clean Air Act, the Montreal Protocol Treaty has, in recognition of this particular problem, approved exemptions for quarantine and emergency uses of methyl bromide. This remains an important discrepancy between U.S. and international law.
USDA is taking additional steps to improve the flow of information on the results of research from the laboratory to the grower. We are focusing this effort in several ways. The first effort is through better integration of USDA's Cooperative Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) with the ARS in order to better integrate ongoing Federal research activities with the land-grant university system and to facilitate a smooth transition of methyl bromide technologies to growers and other methyl bromide users. Extension plays a pivotal role in field trials to demonstrate newly developed technologies and facilitate their development and adaptation.
The second effort is through more cooperative work with methyl bromide users. A significant portion of the ARS post-harvest research is presently carried out in cooperation with industry users and often in their facilities. For preplant research on methyl bromide alternatives, approximately 35 percent of ARS research is carried out in field plots often in commercial grower fields so the findings can be tested in field trials as soon as possible. To further improve grower involvement and expertise in our research programming, the USDA fiscal year 1999 budget proposal has requested $2 million for a cooperative, extramural research program that will be used to fund methyl bromide alternatives projects that are developed by and directed by U.S. growers. Over the next fiscal years, and with the help of a soon to be completed USDA economic analysis for identifying critical methyl bromide needs, USDA will continue to develop better ways to get research out of the lab and into the hands of growers.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To understand more clearly the future needs of U.S. growers and to target better research, USDA initiated an economic impact study of the scheduled phaseout of methyl bromide. This study was implemented in early fall of 1997 by the Economic Research Service (ERS). The study focuses on two policy scenarios: (1) a complete ban on U.S. methyl bromide use by 2001; and (2) a complete ban on U.S. methyl bromide use by 2005, with a 50 percent reduction achieved by 2001. The first scenario is the phaseout schedule required by the Clean Air Act; the second is designed to be consistent with the more recent methyl bromide requirements of the Montreal Protocol. The study consists of three components. The first component is to establish methyl bromide baselines for all uses, review available alternatives to methyl bromide for specific commodities and regions, and quantify changes in crop yields and costs of production associated with reduced availability of methyl bromide and the switch to its alternatives. The second component consists of using workshops to ask technical experts to review ERS data and to refine, and ultimately concur with, the study methodology. The final component is an economic analysis determining the effects on producers and consumers caused by a methyl bromide phaseout.
The first workshop was held in March, 1998, in Gainesville, FL; the second is being held today and tomorrow in Sacramento, CA. The first estimates of the economic effects on growers and consumers of selected crops should be available by no later than this fall. However, USDA expects to have preliminary information shortly after the Sacramento workshop.
While a number of economic studies have been conducted on the potential effects of methyl bromide phaseout, they have previously focused on soil uses in localized areas such as Florida and California. Earlier studies on crops in Florida and California, conducted by the National Agricultural Pesticide Impact Assesment Program (NAPIAP), projected that the phaseout will cost consumers and producers on the order of $1 to $2 billion, excluding secondary effects on local economies. However, a more recent study by Dr. T.H. Spreen, et.al. of the University of Florida revealed lower costs, in the neighborhood of $600 million, based on recent research results on promising alternatives for fresh-market tomatoes and strawberries, two of the largest uses for methyl bromide.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Once the USDA economic study is completed, we expect to have a clearer understanding of the economic implications of the phaseout and what single alternatives or suite of alternatives to methyl bromide exist and how these alternatives compare to the use of methyl bromide for important crops with respect to costs and yields. Further, we hope to identify the crop/pest/region complex for which there is insufficient scientific data available to assess the effect of alternatives or for which viable alternative have not been introduced. Also, working with EPA and the industry, we expect to identify, and where possible, navigate potential barriers to the expeditious adoption of identified alternatives including grower outreach, the EPA registration process, State regulations or preliminary health or environmental concerns.
With solid economic models developed and in use, the planning process at USDA and for US producers will be greatly enhanced. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, this study will provide a tool to help with future policy and planning at the USDA.
In summary Mr. Chairman, I might say that even with the sincere commitment of USDA, EPA and growers to develop alternatives, we may still find situations where effective alternatives will not be available for important uses by the time the phaseout takes effect. Should this occur, it could have significant economic implications for some segments of U.S. agriculture. We would like to work together to avoid such an occurrence and to ensure that we maintain a vital and prosperous agricultural economy and a healthy environment. The phaseout schedule for methyl bromide within the Montreal Protocol provides a less aggressive phaseout schedule and has included some use exemptions that do not currently exist under U.S. law. The Protocol schedule could help facilitate a smoother transition away from methyl bromide. The administration as a whole has expressed a willingness to consider a targeted legislative change to the U.S. Clean Air Act as the 2001 phaseout date approaches. We have also stated that we can support bipartisan, consensus-based proposals that do not put the United States out of compliance with the Montreal Protocol.
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Statement of David Riggs
Mr. Chairman, I am Dave Riggs. I am chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition and president of the California Strawberry Commission. The Crop Protection Coalition is comprised of 35 agricultural organizations in the United States representing tens of thousands of American farmers, billions of dollars of agricultural production and employing hundreds of thousands of people. Our commodities, farms and the economic contribution they make, are an extremely important economic factor in many rural communities in the United States.
While the crops we produce are diverse, we share a common concern about the potential loss of an important crop protection toolmethyl 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 farmers, the loss of jobs and a loss of international competitiveness. In short, this is a wreck waiting to happen
Research into Methyl Bromide Alternatives
Our Coalition has placed the highest priority on mobilizing resources and coordinating research to find viable alternatives for methyl bromide prior to the regulatory deadline for phaseout. We jointly sponsor the International Methyl Bromide Alternatives Research Conference with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Our members individually and collectively are funding research on their commodity, working with University scientists and providing resources for field level experiments. This research commitment will be valuable for our farms and farmers throughout the world as we work through this difficult transition to methyl bromide alternatives.
And, we have worked closely with USDA to focus additional research on the most likely alternatives for methyl bromide and we have made a great deal of progress, but we are still far from economically viable, commercially available, environmentally sound and effective alternatives for many uses of methyl bromide.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1995 at the Geneva Working Group Meeting of the Montreal Protocol, the Crop Protection Coalition reported on our analysis of the status of methyl bromide alternatives research in the United States. We concluded that insufficient progress has been made in the mobilization of resources in order to have viable alternatives in place prior to the regulatory deadline of January 1, 2001. While there has been some progress in that area, of the $14.57 million USDA/ARS alternatives research budget in 1997, only $500,000 was spent on field level validation studies or only 3.4 percent of the total budget. We continue to believe that the best use of scarce funds in the short time available is to increase the support for on-going field level research and technology transfer to farmers under real farming conditions.
Other speakers will address the impact of the loss of methyl bromide as a structural fumigant for ports, grain and transportation as well as post harvest storage and quarantine uses. I will focus my remarks on the use of methyl bromide as a preplant soil fumigant.
Importance of Methyl Bromide As a Preplant Soil Treatment
As a preplant 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.
Loss of methyl bromide will substantially reduce yields and fruit quality. To give you a graphic example I have here a plant that was grown in methyl bromide treated soil in the nursery and planted in clean soil in the fruiting field and a plant grown in non-fumigated soil. The healthy plant will produce an excellent crop, provide a secure job based for farm workers, it will help provide economic vitality to several communities in California and it will be able to protect itself from other diseases and pests throughout the harvest season. The sick plant will not produce a reliable crop, will need constant care and additional pesticide treatments.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Associate 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 in the attached analysis 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.''
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.
MBTOC Analysis of Alternatives
Some members of the Crop Protection Coalition have served as experts on the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) of the Montreal Protocol. In that capacity, they have provided independent insights and data regarding the viability of both currently available and highly speculative alternatives to methyl bromide for MBTOC review.
The Coalition is committed to assuring that MBTOC reviews and updates on the status of potential alternatives be thorough and result in the production of credible and useful reports. From our perspective, before any product or treatment is labeled an alternative to methyl bromide, it has to have been demonstrated to be both technologically and economically feasible. Such product or technology must be field tested successfully over several growing seasons. This is necessary to reflect that, in most instances, the use of methyl bromide in agriculture involves a biological process in which conditions may change from season to season. Investigation of alternates has also shown that pathogens can build up over successive seasons. Consequently, it is important to thoroughly test potential alternatives over several growing seasons to determine their true efficacy.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have repeatedly expressed concern that the vague nature and broad generalizations of both MBTOC and TEAP (Technical and Economic Assessment Panel) Reports have been unrealistically optimistic about the availability of technically feasible alternatives.
We particularly object to the definition of ''technically feasible'' options. This has been construed to mean that processes showing promise in the laboratory setting represent an option however removed they may be from field or production feasibility. It interprets use in any area of the world as an option for any other area regardless of economic, regulatory or production constraints.
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.
Numerous members of the MBTOC expressed their strong concerns about the conclusions of the most recent MBTOC report on the status of alternatives for methyl bromide, as well as the process used by the committee to develop the report. Copies of letters by these individuals expressing their concerns are attached to this testimony. In short, they believe that the report does not represent their views, is not based on facts, and therefore is not suitable for regulatory policy making purposes.
Competitive EnvironmentLevel Playing Field
It all comes down to whether there are workable alternatives for methyl bromidealternatives that are economically viable, commercially available, effective and usable under the regulatory conditions established not only at the Federal level but by state government as well.
I want to emphasize that the viability of an alternative to methyl bromide is directly linked to the regulation of our competitors. As you know, the Clean Air Act requires a complete ban of methyl bromide in the United States January 1, 2001. Under the Montreal Protocol, industrialized nations must reduce their use of methyl bromide 50 percent in 2001 and phaseout completely in 2005. 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, there is nothing prohibiting our competitors from increasing the use of methyl bromide from now until 2002, the very time when American farms would face radical alteration of our farming systems due to the loss of methyl bromide.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 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. As one farmer told me, you can solve a lot of problems with dollar a day 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.
American farmers also use less methyl bromide per acre than many of our competitors. A strawberry farmer in California uses about 250 pounds of methyl bromide per acre while his counterpart in Italy may use 600 pounds. In California, we have worked with the Department of Pesticide Regulation to substantially reduce emissions and improve environmental safety in recent years, but all of this is irrelevant to the Clean Air Act or the Montreal Protocol.
If I can suggest an analogy, imagine that we have three processing plants that use a great deal of water. The manager of Plant A recognizes the need to reduce water usage; he makes the investment to re-engineer his plant and reduces water usage 50 percent. Manager B does nothing. Manager C is economically disadvantaged, he makes no improvements and his use of water continues to increase. Then an agency comes along and requires everybody to reduce the use of water 50 percent. Manager A will be hard pressed to make further improvements, while manager B can easily comply with the regulation. Manager C is told he won't have to comply with the regulations for several years and will be given research grants to study how he might reduce water use if he is ever called upon to do so.
In that case and in the case of the international phaseout of methyl bromide the progressive, responsible individual is the most severely penalized by the regulation.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCUnder the current phaseout schedule required by the Clean Air Act and the phaseout for industrialized nations under the Montreal Protocol, American farmers will be seriously disadvantaged. Meanwhile, our competitors will continue to increase their use of methyl bromide and receive substantial grants from UNEP's Multilateral Fund (MLF) for research. This situation is unfair to American farmers, will cause economic disruption, job losses and a serious loss of international competitiveness.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that our Coalition and the California Strawberry Commission are comprised entirely of farmers and those who distribute and process agricultural products. We have no inherent interest in methyl bromide per seonly as an agricultural tool necessary to allow us to be economically viable and competitive in the market place. Again, our goal is to achieve a level playing field for American farmers.
Attached to my comments are:
Dr. Shaw's summary of statistical analysis of the total body of research conducted on alternatives to methyl bromide in strawberry production;
An analysis of the 1995 MBTOC report on methyl bromide alternatives by Professor Milton Schroth, University of California, Berkeley;
A description of the uses of methyl bromide in soil fumigation prepared by Drs. Albert Paulus, UC Riverside and Douglas Gubler, UC, Davis; and
Correspondence of MBTOC members throughout the world on the 1997 MBTOC report on alternatives to methyl bromide.
We urge you to consider an amendment to the Clean Air Act that will level the playing field for American farmers and we urge you to look beyond the Montreal Protocol in determining what constitutes a level playing field.
Statement of Hugh Ewart
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you Mr. Chairman for your invitation to appear before the subcommittee on the issue of methyl bromide.
Recognizing your desire to keep the hearing as concise and interactive as possible, I am submitting the following in support of the 5 minutes allocated to me for oral testimony.
I have served as the vice-president for Scientific Affairs of the Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) since 1989. This trade organization represents growers and shippers of deciduous tree fruits in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. A large part of the NHC's work over its 50 years of existence has been on international trade policy issues affecting apple, pear and cherry exports.
United States agricultural crops, including our apples, pears and sweet cherries, are frequently required to meet strict protocols to assure importing countries that no pest or disease of phytosanitary concern will be introduced by the exported crop. Although many of these mandatory protocols include field monitoring and preharvest treatments at various points, post harvest quarantine treatments are frequently required to meet importers demand for total assurance that no pest or disease will be introduced. Quarantine treatments must not only control the pest and disease of concern to the importing country, but they must also be compatible with the laws and regulations of both the importing and exporting countries. For chemical treatments the following conditions must be met before export can proceed: the expected residue levels from the required treatment must not exceed tolerances set by the importing country; the treatment must be economically viable for the growers and packers; the quality of the crop following treatment must remain at an acceptable level until consumption; and the treatment must be acceptable to the purchasers and consumers of the crop.
Methyl bromide fumigation is frequently the treatment mandated to meet the requirements of fresh fruit quarantine protocols. Over many decades of experience, methyl bromide has been shown to control a long list of important pests found on fruit without degrading quality beyond acceptable limits for many fruits.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The use of methyl bromide in the United States includes pre-plant, stored crop, structural and preshipment uses. Post harvest fumigations of tree fruit crops are carried out in closed chambers where controlled levels of methyl bromide are used. Research on capture and destruction of recycling of the fumigant have been under way for years. In the most recent survey, less than 0.5 percent of methyl bromide use was identified with quarantine fumigation of exported U.S. produce.
In order to be more specific about the importance of methyl bromide and the current lack of viable alternatives, I would like to speak from the point of view of our western U.S. sweet cherry industry. Currently post harvest methyl bromide treatment is required for all fresh sweet cherries exported to Japan or Korea. If methyl bromide were to be eliminated from use in the United States in January 2001, two very important export markets, namely Japan and Korea, would be lost. Japan is now the major export market for U.S. sweet cherries both in volume and value. Over the last 3 years the annual number of cartons (20 lbs.) of cherries shipped to Japan has totaled 840,000 from California and 660,000 from Washington and Oregon. The direct value of these shipments is more than $44 million annually. If these export markets were closed off to U.S. producers, the resulting larger supply would significantly decrease domestic and other export market prices and thus reduce growers returns.
If the provisions of the Clean Air Act regarding methyl bromide become effective in January 2001, I assume Japan and Korea would continue to have the same phytosanitary concerns. In order for shipments to continue from the 2001 U.S. sweet cherry crop, the governments of Japan and Korea would need to agree to a new system of quarantine security. Effective acceptable replacements for methyl bromide are non existent for most crops. None of the reported alternatives are suitable for use on exported U.S. sweet cherries. The establishment of alternatives would be expected to take many years. The current protocols using methyl bromide for U.S. cherries and apples exported to Japan took more than 20 years to complete. Minor changes to these protocols have taken 4 or more years to be put into place. Even if one were bold enough to predict a best case for the implementation of an alternative fumigant, no one would predict acceptance by the Japanese government before 2001. Any optimism in the short term, however, depends upon the availability of a suitable chemical fumigant as a replacement for methyl bromide.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The following three replacement candidates have been identified and will be discussed here: (A) a systems approach, (B) irradiation, and (C) heat treatments.
The systems approach is a combination of orchard pest management, orchard inspections for pests and packinghouse protocols including online sorting and inspections. The systems approach is based on the experience and documentation from many growing seasons for cherries. This approach has been discussed in bilateral meetings with the Japanese Government. There has been no indication from the Japanese officials that this protocol would be an acceptable alternative to post harvest fumigation with methyl bromide. The passage of the Food Quality Protection Act has introduced some uncertainty to the future of the key orchard management stop for one pest of quarantine concern, the codling moth. Currently the organophosphate pesticides play a primary role in the conventional control strategies for this pest. Loss of these pesticides without the availability of effective replacements would increase the need for a final fumigation on exported fruit to assure importers of the pest free status of the fruit.
The use of irradiation for elimination of pests found on crops has been well documented for many fruits including cherries. Unfortunately technical data alone cannot make irradiation a fully acceptable alternative to methyl bromide. Construction of the number of irradiators required to treat a very perishable crop would be only one of the many challenges. The even greater challenge would be consumer and governmental acceptance of irradiated treated fruit. There is no reason to believe that market acceptance alone would occur by 2001. Historically the Japanese attitude toward irradiated foods has been negative. It is unlikely that the high quality and wonderful flavor of our cherries would be sufficient to change these attitudes in order to favor irradiated U.S. cherries. If other cherry producing nations in the Northern Hemisphere were given the opportunity to fill a market vacated by the United States, their producers would fill this lucrative and established market.
The Northwest's cherry growers have supported research on heat and cold treatments on cherries as an alternative to methyl bromide fumigation. Although the research is ongoing and the efficacy of the treatments is still under question, the quality and shelf life of the fruit is less than that of cherries treated with methyl bromide. The research has been carried out on a scale far below that needed to confirm application to commercial application. Since heating and cooling rates are very scale dependent, further research is needed to establish the exact effect on the fruit quality. Development of larger scale commercial equipment is still being sought. The data from larger systems will be needed before a determination can be made about the status of this treatment as a methyl bromide alternative. Approval of a fully developed heat treatment for cherry exports to Japan by the Japanese Government would be expected to follow a long time line. Again any answer, whether positive or negative, would be expected to arrive long after the 2001 deadline
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are currently no alternatives to methyl bromide for phytosanitary and quarantine treatments acceptable to the major export markets for U.S. sweet cherries. Since other nations do not operate under the provisions of the Clean Air Act, U.S. sweet cherry and apple exporters will be placed on an uneven playing field relative to our competitors. The continued availability of methyl bromide for phytosanitary and quarantine treatments under the Montreal Protocol will result in losses to U.S. agricultural producers, packers and marketers but gains for competing nations.
Testimony of William B. McLaughlin, III
I am Bill McLaughlin, director of communications, governmental and public affairs of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority Currently, our regional ports handle approximately 60 million tons of cargo with a value in excess of $16 billion. Public and private maritime facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey alone are responsible for over 18,000 direct jobs, producing close to $77 million in state and local taxes. You may be surprised to know that recent statistics encompassing activity at public and private marine terminals and refineries along the Delaware River indicate that this port district is the busiest on the North Atlantic range.
In addition to being here representing the Philadelphia Port, I am here on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). Founded in 1912, AAPA represents virtually every U.S. public seaport agency, as well as the major port agencies in Canada, Latin American and the Caribbean. AAPA's association members are public entities mandated by law to serve public purposesprimarily facilitate waterborne commerce and local and regional economic growth. My testimony today reflects the views of AAPA's United States delegation.
Also, I want to thank the members of this Committee for holding this hearing today. The phaseout of methyl bromide is an issue that I believe has not been adequately dealt with in existing legislation. I hope to be able to enhance your understanding about the impact the ban of methyl bromide will have on the United States. Specifically, I hope to shed light on the importance of methyl bromide as it pertains to international trade, both imports and exports. Because the ban of methyl bromide is an international trade issue, I'd first like to discuss the importance of international trade to the United States.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Foreign trade is an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy, currently accounting for over 30 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. U.S. exports and imports are projected to increase in value from $454 billion in 1990 to $1.6 trillion in 2010. The volume of cargo is projected to increase from 875 million to 1.5 billion metric tons in 2010. In addition, the overall national economic impact of port activities in 1994those representing international waterborne trade onlygenerated 16 million jobs, added $783.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product; and contributed $210.1 billion in taxes at all levels of government.
In my testimony today, I will stress these three points on the importance of methyl bromide to international trade:
the efficient flow of international trade depends on methyl bromide because no substitute for methyl bromide is currently available, and none will be available by the 2001 Clean Air Act ban date;
the ban of methyl bromide harms U.S. exports by literally eliminating the ability of U.S. exporters to sell many products to abroad markets and impedes imports by making it impossible to import many fresh foods and other durables that provide consumers with a wide variety of goods at competitive prices; and,
the international treaty which bans methyl bromidethe Montreal Protocolrecognizing that no substitute for methyl bromide is available and appreciating the importance of the efficient flow of trade, provides a critical use exemption for the uses of methyl bromide related to preshipment and quarantine, while the Clean Air Act provides no exemption for international trade.
At the conclusion of my testimony I will urge Congress to immediately implement legislation which pushes back the ban of methyl bromide until a feasible alternative is available and approved by the Federal Government. If methyl bromide were banned tomorrow, one likely result could be that the USDA could be forced to stop the import of perishables, wood packing and many other cargoes in order to protect the ecosystem in the United States. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the winter because we import them. Without access to methyl bromide, it is conceivable that there would be no grapes and other stone fruits sold at grocery stores during winter months because it would be unsafe to import them.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC International Trade is Dependent on Access to Methyl Bromide
Methyl bromide fumigation for quarantine purposes is a principal phytosanitary treatment for the United States. Its use is prevalent in the treatment of U.S. imports and exports, and is important in certain domestic quarantine programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agriculture industry accounts for at least 80 percent of methyl bromide utilized in the United States. The other 20 percent is used for structural fumigation and international shipping purposes. International shippersboth those that ship international products by air and seaare required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to apply methyl bromide to international cargo in order to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous species (insects and other pests) into the ecosystem. In addition, some international shippers utilize methyl bromide to more assuredly provide consumers with safe, high-quality food products.
A non-indigenous species is any type of insect or pest not currently found in the U.S. ecosystem. The introduction of non-indigenous species can have harmful effects on the ecosystem because in the foreign environment the species will most often have no natural predators. The gypsy moth, which has destroyed many trees in the United States, is an example of a non-indigenous species with no natural predators. It was most likely introduced in the United States because a shipment of infested cargo was not treated properly upon entry.
Methyl bromide is used to treat all types of imported international cargo, perishable and durable goods, at U.S. ports. A draft study conducted by an economist at USDA/APHIS found that in fiscal year 1996, U.S. food imports worth about $345 million, or 14 percent of fruit, nut and vegetable imports, were treated with methyl bromide, 80 percent at U.S. ports and 20 percent in preclearance programs. Most of the fumigated food items were imported from Caribbean and Latin American countries, with grapes from Chile compromising 82 percent of the total. Food imports that have shown increasing dependence on methyl bromide fumigation include grapefruit, kiwi, lemons and oranges.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Chilean fruit that the Port of Philadelphia and Camden unloads in the winter months when the U.S.-grown fruits of this sort are in short supply, must be treated with methyl bromide either in Chile under the supervision of USDA/APHIS inspectors, or upon entry into the Philadelphia port system. The reason that USDA mandates fumigation of Chilean fruit is because it almost always contains the Red Fall Chilean mite, a non-indigenous species which would be harmful to U.S. agriculture if introduced into our ecosystem. The mite is invisible to the naked eye. The volumes of Chilean fruit imported into the United States during winter months make it impossible for APHIS inspectors to examine with a microscope every pallet of fruit that is unloaded.
Many nonfood imports are also fumigated. More than one-third of the methyl bromide applied to imports at U.S. ports is for entry of nonfood items, particularly cotton and brassware.
Any type of imported cargo that you can imagine has probably been treated at one time or another with methyl bromide. Durable goods and the packing materials in which the goods are shipped are treated with methyl bromide after an APHIS inspector has determined that either the packing material or the cargo itself is infested with a non-indigenous pest. For example, during the Gulf War, several tanks were shipped back to the United States via the Port of New York and New Jersey. Upon inspection at the Port, APHIS inspectors discovered that a non-native strand of gypsy moths had infested the inside of the tanks. The tanks remained sealed until treated with methyl bromide, when they could safely be unloaded from the hulls of the ship. Another commonly treated durable good is dunnage, or wood packing material. As an example, brassware and marble are secured using dunnage often made from untreated lumber, which harbor non-indigenous pests.
Many importers use methyl bromide to assist them in supporting adequate levels of food health standards. For instance, it is not mandated by USDA that cocoa beans be treated with methyl bromide because the bugs that they harbor are also found in the United States. However, most cocoa bean importers treat the beans with methyl bromide to eliminate the massive reproduction of resident bugs. Hershey Foods, for example, treats all of the cocoa beans it imports with methyl bromide in order to maintain a suitable level of health guidelines for its chocolate. Many other food processors also use methyl bromide to meet health and safety guidelines.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide is also a critical tool for treating U.S. exports. U.S. exports in fiscal year 1996 that required methyl bromide fumigation had a value of approximately $216 million. This estimate understates the actual value of exports treated with methyl bromide, since it does not include commodities that may have been fumigated as an alternative treatment. Cotton and cherry exports requiring fumigation comprised more than 80 percent of the estimated value. However, only for cherries did a signicant percentage of total exports require methyl bromide fumigation in fiscal year 1996. The quantity and value of exported commodities fumigated can vary considerably from year to year.
As you have already heard from my associates from the agriculture industry, methyl bromide allows the U.S. agriculture industry to grow internationally cost-competitive crops. The agriculture industry exports over one-third of its production, and it is imperative that the industry continue to be in a position from which they can grow cost-competitive crops. The export of U.S. crops provides great economic benefit to the United States. The higher agricultural production costs that will be incurred if methyl bromide is banned will decrease the marketability of U.S. agriculture products abroad because they will compete against cheaper crops in countries that continue to have access to methyl bromide.
The importance of methyl bromide to U.S. exports goes beyond growing internationally competitively-priced crops. Methyl bromide is also utilized immediately before the export of certain goods in order to maintain a level of quality that meets foreign regulations. For example, the Japanese Government requires that U.S.-grown apples be treated with methyl bromide before export from the United States. If U.S. apple growers did not have access to methyl bromide, they would literally be unable to sell apples in Japan. The largest importer of U.S. cotton, Middle Eastern block, requires that U.S. cotton growers fumigate raw cotton before it is exported to their countries.
The American Association of Port Authorities supports public and private efforts to develop alternatives for methyl bromide. The U.S. Government, crop coalitions and food manufacturers spent over $16 million last year on research to find alternatives to methyl bromide. Their efforts have not produced any promising options that can be developed by the Clean Air Act ban date of 2001. Research to find alternatives should continue. However, until a feasible alternatives exists, a ban of methyl bromide will unnecessarily disrupt the flow of international trade. The USDA has not approved substitute treatments for almost all international shipping uses of methyl bromide. APHIS can better explain the reasons why no alternative has yet been reliable enough to change the regulatory requirements. I would like to take a minute to mention a possible future alternative for limited applications for which methyl bromide is now usedirradiationand some of the issues with irradiation that will have to be resolved before it is a feasible substitute for methyl bromide.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC USDA is currently experimenting with the concept of irradiating cargo as an alternative to methyl bromide. Successful irradiation of cargo prevents reproduction and/or development by pest organisms that infest a host commodity, but it may not eliminate them outright. There are many problems with irradiation that must be determined before it can satisfy USDA requirements and be a viable replacement for methyl bromide. Two of the most obvious are that: (1) it is unpopular with consumers, and (2) that an irradiation facility cannot feasibly handle necessary trade volumes. The USDA has constructed an irradiation facility in Florida at a cost of $7 million that can only irradiate eight to ten pallets at a time. Compare this to the Port of Philadelphia's largest fruit-handling facility, which can fumigate 2000 of pallets of Chilean fruit in one night using methyl bromide. The Port has invested in a facility with these capabilities so that it can handle the volumes of fruit consumed by the U.S. domestic market during the winter months. Additionally, the USDA has not yet indicated that irradiation will be approved as a suitable alternative for imported perishables or other cargoes.
Irradiation is an example of a substitute that may be a suitable alternative if the technology is improved, but will not developed by the deadline imposed by the Clean Air Act. The following are all regulatory issues which need to be resolved before irradiationor any alternative to methyl bromidecan be approved. The USDA must approve the alternative in a regulation, which may involve both health and safety approvals, plus agriculture or treatment level approvals. U.S. trade partners also need to implement regulations for import and export standards; trade partners will have to demonstrate to the USDA's comfort the industrial competency necessary to implement agreed-upon treatment programs on a commercial scale. Trading partners must adopt and share standards for packaging fresh foods. Parties to superseding international agreements within the GATT and the International Plan Protection Convention must not perceive any new standards and requirements to be restrictions on international trade.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Irradiation is only one of several alternatives on the horizon for shipping purposes. There are many others. According to USDA/APHIS Port Operations personnel, there is no substitute on the horizon which would effectively treat cargoes on an ad hoc basis, such as for durable goods, asparagus, snow peas, bananas and others that may be infested with more than one type of pest. In the event that an alternative only kills one type of pest, it is infeasible, and most probably unsafe, to apply several treatments to one shipment of cargo. Again, while the public port industry wholeheartedly supports research efforts to find an alternative to methyl bromide, a feasible alternative will not be available by January 2001.
The Ban of Methyl Bromide Will Eliminate Access to Export Markets and Impede Imports
As I've already indicated, there are specific export markets which require that U.S. exports be treated with methyl bromide before exportation. The highest value cargo impacted by such trading partner regulations is cotton, which, according to the domestic regulations of most of the Middle Eastern countries, must be fumigated in the United States in order for it to be imported into their countries. Additionally, the United States gained access to the Japanese fresh fruit market in part because of methyl bromide. Japanese regulation requires that all U.S. apples and stone fruits be specifically treated with methyl bromide before exportation from the United States. There are many other examples of export markets from which the United States will be shut-out if methyl bromide is banned in 2001. There simply is not enough time between now and 2001 to negotiate and develop an acceptable alternative for these markets.
Imports will be impacted, as well. Improvements in transportation efficiency and higher crop yields in South America are largely responsible for the fact that the U.S. market can enjoy nearly any fruit during any month of the year. According to the USDA, if methyl bromide were banned tomorrow, USDA would be forced to inspect by hand nearly every shipment of fruit because each different type of pest would require a different type of treatment; methyl bromide is the only treatment that kills a wide variety of pests. Losing access to methyl bromide will make it infeasible for the USDA to adequately inspect existing volumes of imported cargo.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Additionally, there will always be the ad hoc applications of methyl bromide for shipments like the tanks from the Gulf War. It would be unacceptable for the United States to be unable to accept durable goods because the USDA does not have access to the appropriate treatments to bring durable goods safely into the United States.
The Montreal Protocol Provides a Critical Use Exemption for International Trade That the Clean Air Act Does Not
The U.S. Clean Air Acts bans production and import of methyl bromide on December 31, 2000, for all purposes. The Montreal Protocol, the international environmental treaty which addresses ozone depleting substances, bans the use of methyl bromide for signatory developed countries in 2005 and for signatory developing countries (those countries with developing economies) in 2015. According to documents from the Department of State, less than half of the signatories to the Montreal Protocol have enacted domestic legislation which mandates that they carry out their international obligations. Obviously, the Clean Air Act places U.S. industries that are dependent on methyl bromide at a competitive disadvantage relative to our global competitors.
The Montreal Protocol provides a critical use exemption for preshipment and quarantine applications like those I have indicated are of special importance to the international shipping community. While the public port industry has some concern about the manner in which the Montreal Protocol provides these exemptionsit may be a tedious approval process which is infeasible on a day-to-day basis for the shipping industrythe public port industry applauds the Protocol for providing the exemption with the recognition that there are a lack of substitutes that will be developed by its 2005 ban date.
While the public port industry believes it imperative that our agriculture industry not be placed at a competitive disadvantage, we stress that there are no available options for the shipping industry. The public ports of the United States provide its shippers with the ability to fumigate international cargo with methyl bromide, for the most part, in order to comply with USDA regulation. If the U.S. Government does not approve any alternatives and does not change the regulation, we as facilitators of international trade cannot effectively facilitate trade because of paradoxes in our country's own regulations.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide was added to the Montreal Protocol in 1992. In 1993 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under provisions of the Clean Air Act, gave EPA the authority to ban substances with a minimum ozone depleting potential. EPA froze production levels of methyl bromide and banned it by 2001 without specific action by Congress. If the issue had come before Congress, I feel strongly that a ban of methyl bromide would not have been passed in legislation. Congress would have recognized the competitive disadvantage imposed by the ban of methyl bromide. Congress must correct the premature ban of methyl bromide by taking action to give the shipping community time to find a suitable alternative for both the regulations of our trading partners and our domestic regulations. There is no exemption provided in the Clean Air Act for international trade purposes, therefore the Clean Air Act leaves U.S. importers and exporters no other option than to lose market access.
Additionally, a premature ban of methyl bromide will not yield a net environmental gain for the global problem of ozone depletion. It is unclear to me, if methyl bromide is unavailable, whether the United States will continue to mandate that products be treated with methyl bromide according to USDA regulation or whether the regulatory requirements will be relaxed. Additionally, if the regulations are not relaxed, will the same amount of fumigation using methyl bromide be done inside the borders of our trading partners before they send cargo to us? Obviously, this solution would not yield any environmental benefit to the ozone layer. If the ban of methyl bromide sticks and no alternative for shipping is available, competitors of U.S. export markets will be at a competitive advantage to tap into export markets. e.g., the Japanese apple market and Middle Eastern cotton market.
I urge you to consider amending the Clean Air Act so as to provide the trading interests of the United States with the tools to successfully facilitate trade. Today, I have explained some of the reasons why U.S. imports and exports will be harmed by the ban of methyl bromide. The ban as it exists in the Clean Air Act places U.S. exports at a competitive disadvantage relative to our trading partners. The ideal solution would be for Congress to push back the ban of methyl bromide until an alternative is acceptable to USDA and feasible for industry in light of growing trade volumes. Congress should continue to authorize funds for research which will someday yield a reliable alternative to methyl bromide for international shipping purposes. There is simply not enough time between now and January 2001 for an alternative to be developed and approved.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for your time in listening to my testimony. I look forward to answering any questions that you may have about the impact of the ban of methyl bromide on imports and exports.
Statement of Scott Montgomery
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to describe for you the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant in the grain milling industry. I do so as a representative of the North American Millers' Association. The association's 45 member companies operate 173 wheat and corn mills in 34 States. Their aggregate production capacity is more than 150 million pounds of product daily which is about 90 percent of the total U.S. capacity.
The company I work forCargill, Inc.'s flour milling divisionoperates 19 flour mills in the States of Texas, California, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, New York, Massachusetts and Utah. Cargill also operates corn mills in Illinois and Indiana. My company has the capacity to produce more than 25 million pounds of wheat and corn products every day.
Additionally, I have operations responsibilities for wheat flour mills, rice mills and pasta manufacturing plants in Latin America and India. I have been in this industry for 19 years. As a result, I think I have developed a good understanding of how to keep pests out of the food we manufacture.
Methyl bromide is used in the milling industry because it is a highly effective treatment for ensuring the production of high quality, wholesome food in a sanitary environment free of insects. Its use is limited to fumigating the physical mill structure and the equipment contained in the mill. Methyl bromide is not used to fumigate raw wheat or corn, nor processed products like flour.
Mills typically receive two general fumigations with methyl bromide annually. Although the EPA-approved label allows for usage at up to 6 lb. per 1,000 cubic feet, the common dosage is 11.5 lb. per 1,000 cubic feet, depending on the tightness and structural integrity of the building. An average mill may contain 12 million cubic feet.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As grain and finished products are not fumigated with methyl bromide, no residues of the fumigant are present on finished foods. The milling industry funded a methyl bromide residue study in 1993 to meet EPA reregistration requirements. Although grain is not treated, in order to generate worst-case scenario data, in this study grain was fumigated with the compound.
Also, the fumigant was applied at an exaggerated rate of 8 lb. per 1000 cubic feet. Still, there were no measurable methyl bromide residues in any of the processed fractions at a detection level of 0.25 parts per million.
The industry is experimenting widely with potential alternatives, with mixed success. For example, high heat treatments have shown some promise in certain facilities. However, industry-wide experiences with heat treatments emphasize the importance of the structural integrity of the mill.
In many mills heat treatments are not feasible. Those mills are not tight enough to facilitate raising and holding the temperature at high levels, nor do mills possess the heating capacity to raise the temperatures in the structure or equipment to insecticidal levels. There is considerable initial cost associated with outfitting a mill for heat-up including changing sprinkler heads and electrical components and installing heating systems, ductwork and humidity controls.
Building a new mill just to facilitate high heat treatments requires capital expenditures that render the proposition moot. New mills built recently cost approximately $30 million each. When you consider that you can buy a bag of flour in your grocery store for about 90 cents, obviously this is not a business with fat margins that would justify such an expense.
Those costs, however, are minor compared with the lost production resulting from the longer time necessary for alternative treatments. For example, a typical wheat flour mill will produce about 10,000 hundredweights (one million pounds) of flour each day. Alternative treatments like high heat require 4 days to complete, versus two for a methyl bromide fumigation. At a sales price of about $12 per hundredweight of flour, the miller will lose $240,000 in sales every time the facility is treated with heat.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, our bakery customers continue to bake their products around the clock and when our mill is down they still need to receive flour. If we can't supply them because our plant is down we risk losing them as a customer.
Phosphine, effective in treating stored grain, empty bulk storages and grain and product transport vehicles, is not a good selection for the mill. This is mostly due to the extensive electrical equipment present. Phosphine is highly corrosive and could seriously damage electrical contacts, motors and electronic programmable controllers.
We believe that an effective integrated pest management (IPM) program is the best answer for ensuring good sanitation. This includes non chemical and chemical means so as to minimize the reliance on any one tool.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, grain millers are not asking to use this important food safety tool forever. We merely ask for a few more years to seek out and fine tune alternatives. This industry is working hard on that task, but simply will run out of time before the ban takes affect. We do not want to jeopardize our ability to produce wholesome food products in a sanitary environment. While this attention to cleanliness is required by the Government, more importantly it is expected by consumers.
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 13 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 statewide specialist, 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).
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I should also indicate, and this may sound insensitive and callous, but I do not personally care whether methyl bromide is available next year or 5 years from now. I do care and am very concerned about the future plight of Florida farmers, and am adamant about developing and implementing pest management strategies which will sustain the economic viability and vitality of agriculture in Florida, particularly in view of recent negative impacts increasing competition from Mexican imports have had on the number, acreage, and profitability of farms in Florida.
You will hear, I strongly suspect, during the course of this hearing, those who will propose the existence of many ''technically feasible and economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide''. These claims, for the most part I believe, are predicated on a pittance of research, or research performed outside of Florida which ultimately may have little or no application or transferability within Florida. At the same time however, it is clear however, that under the conditions of the tests, that the results from some of the alternatives research studies has produced some encouraging results. However, their long term applicability has not been demonstrated, particularly in Florida with its unique soils and subtropical environmental conditions conducive for pest outbreak and crop damage.
What you will hopefully glean from the testimony I will provide, every currently proposed alternative, at their present stages of research and development, comes with certain constraints or incompatibilities which affect the technological or economical feasibility of the proposed alternative. This can negatively impact future widespread adoption, such as high costs, lower efficacy, increased production or environmental risks, and (or) farm profitability. The adoption of these alternatives will all involve trade-offs of one sort or another, and can have tremendous future impacts to Florida agriculture. In addition and contrary to persistent claim, 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.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I cannot overemphasize the difficulty of providing simple descriptions of the viabilities of the alternatives, as the appropriateness of a given alternative or alternative system is very dependent on a variety of interrelated factors such as climate, market, pest level and presence, land and labor availability, soil type and condition to name but a few. The complex interaction of these factors requires choice of best alternatives to be developed on a field-by- 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 optimization to perform to their full potential.
Historical Perspective: At this time I'd like to invest a moment to indicate why methyl bromide is so important and extensively used. Vegetable culture before 1950 in Florida can best be described as nomadic. One to four successive crops were produced on rented land after expensive clearing operations had been performed or after long pasture rotation periods to avoid soilborne pest and disease problems. As urban growth increased, suitable land for crop production became more difficult to locate and expensive to acquire and develop. The warm subtropical environment of Florida also proved to be conducive for the rapid development of pest populations to economically damaging levels when long term rotations were not implemented. Due to these constraints, growers increasingly adopted chemical methods of soil pest management.
During the early to mid1950's, various soil fumigants became available for testing and use in an attempt to resolve these ''old land'' nematode, disease, and weed problems that developed in repeatedly cultivated fields. These new soil fumigants not only alleviated some of the problems, but allowed growers to use the same fields for crop production each year, taking advantage of their financial investment in property, land improvements and site locations relative to markets and processing facilities. As important, use of these fumigant allowed growers to specialize in a few crops and integrate production cycles with market demand. This served to minimize capital investments in farm machinery and labor requirements.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since 1960, use of methyl bromide, formulated with varying proportions of chloropicrin, was rapidly adopted, almost to the exclusion of other chemical pest control methods for many different fruit and vegetable crops grown in Florida. This occurred primarily because methyl bromide soil fumigation provided superior broad-spectrum control of most soilborne pests and disease pathogens. This broader spectrum of pest control activity generally translated into superior vegetative plant growth and yield, and more uniform fruit maturity, such that harvesting could usually be completed in fewer pickings at lower total cost. Unlike most other chemical alternatives, methyl bromide treatment required significantly reduced treatment and soil aeration periods prior to planting that posed little risk of crop phytotoxicity. Adoption of this single treatment system has allowed and consistently assured growers of high quality vegetable crop yields on lands of low natural fertility infested with nematodes, soil borne disease organisms, and numerous weed pests for the past 30 years.
As a single treatment, the availability of methyl bromide as a reliable, economical, preplant soil fumigant was also a critical factor in the development of several high value multiple cropping systems, which could now be reduced or lost with alternative substitutes. Currently, methyl bromide is perceived as probably the single most important pest management tool responsible not only for sustaining profitable crop yields but for maintaining Florida in a competitive position within the global marketplace. Most agricultural industries now utilizing methyl bromide will be adversely affected by its removal from commercial use unless new, economically acceptable integrated pest management (IPM) strategies are developed and implemented.
Methyl bromide is currently used in the production of least 21 different crops grown in California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to control weeds, plant diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes, and to a lesser extent, soil arthropods. Methyl bromide is also widely used as a structural and commodity fumigant, as well as for quarantine or regulatory purposes.
Page 132 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 show that no single, equivalent replacement (chemical or nonchemical) currently exists which exactly matches the broadspectrum efficacy of methyl bromide. A summary of chemical alternatives research suggests that a chemical cocktail of different fumigants ( 1,3 dichloropropene with chloropicrin) and a separate, but complementary herbicide treatment will be required to achieve satisfactory soilborne pest control and crop yield.
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 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 (Strip Tillage), (10) Supplemental Fertilization, (11) Fallowing
The results from some of 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 lack of sufficient research funding and the proximity of the currently defined phaseout date of January 1, 2001 should be considered major obstacles towards evaluation, development, and implementation for many of these proposed nonchemical alternatives.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I should also point out at this time that research within Florida has been principally confined to tomato and only recently expanded to include strawberry. 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. 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, multi-year studies have not been performed to determine whether crop yields under high pest pressures, and diverse geographical / environmental conditions, can be consistently achieved with the alternatives. This is of particular concern since the long history of methyl bromide usage mitigates recurring pest problems. A 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 multiple locations to accurately predict either short and long term impacts. A considerable amount of critical research remains to be done in a very short time to be of any practical benefit to Florida growers at the time of the proposed phaseout.
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. 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 134 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, 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.
As a concluding statement 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. Please recognize that methyl bromide is a critical pest management tool to many U.S. farmers, and a delay in the ban until 2005 or later would not only bring the United States in line with other developed countries under the Montreal Protocol treaty, but mitigate potential competitive impacts to domestic growers. More importantly, a delay would provide U.S. scientists more time to develop appropriate alternatives to methyl bromide.
Statement of R. Rodriguez-Kabana
Thank you for allowing me to present information on the methyl bromide phaseout.
I have two main points to make today:
First, in spite of the widespread use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant in some parts of the world it is important to realize that there is no single crop that cannot be produced successfully without methyl bromide. It is also important to understand that the use of methyl bromide in crop production is exceptional and not the rule, since on a world-wide basis it is not needed for production of the immense majority of crops.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, while methyl bromide is clearly effective at sterilizing soil and killing pests, it is also indisputably a pesticide that is very toxic to humans, and is a significant ozone depleting agent.
What is methyl bromide? Methyl bromide [bromomethane] is a broadspectrum pesticide used in agriculture to fumigate soils and for post-harvest and quarantine treatments of various commodities and products. It is a halogenated hydrocarbon which at ambient temperature and pressure is in gas form but is easily liquified under pressure. It is applied to soil in liquid form from pressurized cylinders and it vaporizes and diffuses quickly throughout the soil profile. Because of its high vapor pressure [volatility] methyl bromide is usually applied to soil and is quickly covered with polyethylene sheeting to assure its retention in soil. The gas moves through the soil and slowly upwards and through the plastic cover into the atmosphere. Approximately 80 percent of the methyl bromide applied to soil is ultimately discharged into the atmosphere where it moves to the stratosphere contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer.
History. Methyl bromide was introduced in 1932 by Le Goupil for the treatment of grain weevils. It was the second important halogenated hydrocarbon used as a soil fumigant in agriculture being preceded by tear gas [chloropicrin, trichloronitromethane]. The value of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant was quickly realized during the 1940's and 1950's. When applied at high rates it could kill dormant weed seeds and other plant pests such as insects, nematodes and fungi. The insidious toxicity of methyl bromide to humans was realized from the very beginning of its use in agriculture and rigid precautionary measures were recommended for its use [H.M.S.O. 1947; von Oettingen.1955. U.S. Dept. Health Pub. 414]. Methyl bromide belongs to a technology originating in the 1940's that resulted in the development of several halogenated hydrocarbon soil fumigants among which there were: 1,3-D [1,3-dichloropropene, Telone R], EDB [1,2-dibromoethane], and DBCP [1,2-dibromo3-chloropropane, NemagonR]. These fumigants alone or in combination were very successful in that they were inexpensive and efficacious for the treatment of recalcitrant pests such as plant parasitic nematodes. Two of these fumigants, DBCP and EDB, were removed in 1978 and 1981, respectively, because of serious toxicological and environmental problems. Removal of DBCP and EDB resulted for some crops in increased use of methyl bromide as a substitute soil treatment.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl Bromide Usage Rates. Typical of methyl bromide and other fumigants developed in the 1940's, is that they are applied at very high rates compared with modern pesticides. Thus, methyl bromide is used at rates ranging from 200900 lbs/acre [20100 grams/m2, i.e., 2001000 kgs/ha]. These rates contrast sharply with modern pesticides which are used at rates below 67 lbs/acre [0.50.6 grams/m2 , i.e., 56 kgs/ha]. The high dosages required for methyl bromide and its movement in soil have at times resulted in contamination of ground water in areas with high water tables.
Spectrum of Activity of Methyl Bromide Against Pests. The spectrum of activity of methyl bromide against soil-borne pests includes hard-to-kill nematode species such as the root-knot nematodes, disease causing fungi in the genera Fusarium, Phytophthora, and Verticillium as well as a variety of insects and other arthropods. It is not an effective bactericide. To obviate its ineffectiveness against bacterial pathogens methyl bromide is formulated with chloropicrin [tear gas], a bactericide, for application to soils where this type of pests are present.
Alternatives to Soil Fumigation with Methyl Bromide. Mr. Chairman, the world-wide experience gathered during the last 6 years from work by my colleagues and I on alternatives to methyl bromide allow me to make the following statements:
1. There is no place in the world where soil fumigation with methyl bromide is so essential that it cannot be replaced successfully with alternative techniques.
2. There are many alternative technologies that can replace methyl bromide in all its uses as a soil fumigant. While some of these alternatives are still under study and development there are others that are already in commercial use.
3. Among the specific alternatives that have proven successful in the replacement of methyl bromide in the United States and abroad there are: steaming, soil solarization, biofumigation, the use of artificial substrates, development of resistant varieties through plant breeding, grafting of both annual and perennial plants, the addition of composts and organic amendments to soil, crop rotations, combinations of registered chemicals, and many others. Most successful has been the development of production systems based on integrated pest management. These systems encompass the use of various alternative methods to maintain pest pressure at levels below the point where significant crop damage is sustained. The specific alternative methods used to replace methyl bromide vary according to crop and location. Solarization, the heating of soil by solar energy in soil covered by plastic sheets is useful in areas with high solar incidence and low cloudiness, such as in some of our western regions. With appropriate modifications solarization has been used successfully in Alabama and Florida in tomato production. In regions with high cloudiness solarization can be combined with the addition of organic material in a process called biofumigationi.e., fumigation of the soil by gases generated by microbial decomposition of organic matter. Cropping systems have been modified to include pest suppressive green manure crops ahead of the main vegetable crops to suppress problems caused by nematodes and other soil-borne pests. The use of compost in the production of cut flowers or potted plants has been so successful in the United States and other nations that methyl bromide is no longer needed for these crops. Pre-plant applications of combinations of 1,3-D, metham sodium and chloropicrin have been shown to be as effective as methyl bromide in the production of strawberries and tomatoes in the United States and abroad. Solarization of soils treated with metam sodium have also been shown to result in pest control and yields equivalent to those obtained with methyl bromide in the United States and abroad. There is thus literally a host of examples that we can mention where methyl bromide has been replaced by alternative technologies in the United States and abroad.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 4. Development and adoption of alternatives to methyl bromide in a particular area depend directly on the amount of knowledge available on pest biology and the will to invest in research to acquire new knowledge. Closely linked with this is the ability of researchers and producers to accept change and contemplate new ways of dealing with their pest problems.
5. Direct investment on research for alternatives to methyl bromide in the United States has been for the most part limited to short-term solutions involving typically the replacement of methyl bromide by combinations of other chemicals or ways to use the chemicals. These chemicals are for the most part old and inherited from research done in the 1940s and 1950s. There has been only limited work to develop long-term sustainable production systems that do not require methyl bromide or any other fumigant.
6. Investment on research for alternatives to methyl bromide in our nation has been localized and has not involved the full power of the U.S. agricultural research establishment. Consequently, today we have a situation where whole concepts on alternatives to methyl bromide that are used commercially in other countries are not being seriously considered in the United States.
Problems. Besides methyl bromide's ozone depleting property and inherent toxicity to humans there are other problems linked with its use as a soil fumigant. The very broad spectrum of activity of methyl bromide can have deleterious effects on the soil microflora. For example, when used in citrus nurseries it can result in elimination of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi are an essential component of the root system of many plants increasing the ability of the roots to extract nutrients from soils and contributing to the plant's ability to withstand pest attacks.
Chronic application of methyl bromide to soil results in serious decrease in microbial biodiversity and enzymatic activities of soil. This is reflected occasionally in increased severity of problems caused by pathogens that are not controlled by the fumigant, e.g., Pseudomonas solanacearum, Olpidium radicale. Although reduction in microbial biodiversity may not be apparent with respect to the total numbers of microorganisms, they are conspicuous when more precise measurements of soil microbial activities are considered. This is important since it indicates among other things, that soil fumigation with methyl bromide in some cases may reduce the capacity of soils to decompose organic matter.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The broad-spectrum activity of methyl bromide, its relative ease of applications, and its effective performance in many and various environments resulted in rapid adoption and increased used by producers. This is specially so in areas where there are complexes of pathogens in soil and where precise knowledge on pests and management techniques is lacking or is not available. Indeed it can be stated that the degree of technical knowledge on the biology of pests and on their management is usually inversely related to the extent that methyl bromide is used. In this respect methyl bromide use as a soil fumigant has in many areas resulted in the abandonment of research on other pest management approaches and even of well-tried production methods that did not require soil fumigation.
Recommendations. Mr. Chairman, I have the following recommendations and considerations:
The U.S. must accelerate research on alternatives broadening the research base to include as much of the nation's pertinent scientific establishment as possible. The transfer of alternative technologies to the producers is crucial to the phaseout of methyl bromide.
The phaseout date for methyl bromide must be the year 2001. Prolongation of the use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant beyond 2001 may seriously impair our competitiveness in markets that have or are considering ''eco-labeling'' of fruits, flowers, vegetables and other agricultural products. The European Community [EC] is presently considering advancing the phaseout date for methyl bromide to the 2001. The EC has adopted an Integrated Pest Management System that prohibits the use of methyl bromide and which will give producers a definite market advantage over those who continue to use the fumigant.
Conclusion. In closing, let me reiterate that in spite of the widespread use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant in some parts of the world it is important to realize that there is no single crop that cannot be produced successfully without methyl bromide. Also, that while methyl bromide is clearly effective at sterilizing soil and killing pests, it is also indisputably a pesticide that is very toxic to humans, and is a significant ozone depleting agent.
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Statement of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, the Teamsters' Union thanks you and the members of the House Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research for this opportunity to present our views on the methyl bromide phaseout, as defined by the Clean Air Act as amended.
The Teamsters' Union represent 1.4 million workers and their families who have a decided interest in the protection of the Earth's ozone layer. We also represent a significant portion of the many agricultural industry workers involved in growing, processing and otherwise manufacturing products in which methyl bromide is used as a fumigant. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defined methyl bromide as a Category I Acute ToxinCategory I Acute Toxin is a designation reserved for the most deadly group of chemical substances. and as a Class I Ozone Depletor.
The Teamsters' Union, and co-plaintiff Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), have filed suit against the EPA. We had hoped that we had settled the lawsuit when the agency agreed to promulgate a ruling on the labelling of products containing or manufactured with methyl bromide. Unfortunately, the EPA's idea of settlement and the Teamsters/NRDC idea have yet to be reconciled. (Occasionally, the EPA needs reminding that the agency's mission is to protect the environment, not protect corporations from environmental regulations.)
The Teamsters' Union will not submit to the job blackmail of the agribusiness community. We know the threat: if the phaseout of methyl bromide is not extended, then the growers will simply pull up their roots and move south to Mexico, Central America, Brazil, and other countries where children are used to apply the Category I Acute Toxin and Class I Ozone Depletor, where workers are paid sub-subsistence wages, and where the agribusiness corporations, like spoiled brats, can run rampant with little or no consequences.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We agree with David Donniger from the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, when he said: ''The Clean Air Act says that if a chemical depletes the ozone layer and it has a certain strength as an ozone depletor, then it must be eliminated by the year 2000. There is not if's, and's, but's or exemptions to qualify that ... methyl bromide has three and a half times more strength as an ozone depletor than it takes to get it on the list that must be phased out by the year 2000''.Morning Edition, NPR News, November 12, 1992, 9:40 am. Pressure to Ban methyl bromide. Transcript provided by Radio TV Reports.
In fact, methyl bromide ''contains atoms that are 50 times more destructive than the more widely known ozone depletor, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)'' Lawrie Mott, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, informs us.Draft Methyl Bromide Press Release, NRDC, unpublished.
In 1986, Teamster members working at the Diamond Walnut processor manufacturing plant in Stockton, California, were sent to the hospital as a result of exposure to the toxin, methyl bromide. Others complained of severe headaches and cracked and bleeding lips. Long-time Diamond Walnut worker, Cynthia Zavala, who testified before the EPA on the dangers of methyl bromide in her workplace said:
''Methyl Bromide can damage the nervous system, cause brain damage, and kidney and liver damage. We don't think that workers should have to work in this kind of danger when there are other alternatives.''Comments of Cynthia Zavala to the Environmental Protection Agency Regarding Regulation of Methyl Bromide and Ozone Protection, April 2, 1993. Washington DC.
Agribusiness representatives here today would have you believe that methyl bromide is harmless. The EPA's Category I Acute Toxin designation belies their claims. Methyl bromide has been linked to poisoning, neurological damage, and reproductive harm among people living or working in the environment around where it is used. In California, where it is widely used, state agencies recorded 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries, and 60 cases of skin damage caused by exposure to the chemical during the 8 years from 19821990.Brodberg, Robert, et alia. Estimation of Exposure of Persons in California to Pesticide Products Containing Methyl Bromide, California Department of Pesticide Regulation. June 1992.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Agribusiness special interests would have us believe that there are no viable alternatives. Every member here today should take these agribusiness representatives to task for wasting their time and taxpayers' money today. Methyl bromide can (and should) be phased out tomorrow and crops would still be safe. There are viable alternative to methyl bromide. In 1980, the Netherlands was one of Europe's largest users of methyl bromide, particularly for crops grown in greenhouses. By 1992, fully 8 years before the Clean Air Act (CAA)'s mandate for year 2000 phaseout, the Netherlands completely replaced methyl bromide use for soil fumigation in fields and in greenhouses, using a variety of options, including pest-resistant varieties of strawberries and tomatoes, crop rotation, artificial and natural growing media and selected chemical replacements. The resultant high-yields allowed the Dutch growers to remain competitive in the international markets despite the additional costs associated with the pest control changes.
In Florida, one study compared the effectiveness of treating the soil with water heated to 54 Celsius, with methyl bromide use. The result: Both methyl bromide and hot water treatment effectively eliminated unwanted pests. However, the hot water treatment was half the cost of the methyl bromide application.Methyl Bromide Alternatives: 10 Case Studies -- Volume 3, September 1997. Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Air and Radiation.
Grape growers, such as Fetzer, rely on pest-resistant plants, composts and manures which encourage beneficial microorganisms, crop rotation and other techniques in lieu of methyl Bromide.Stratospheric Ozone Protection Case Study: Methyl Bromide Alternative, Replacing Methyl Bromide for Pre-plant Soil Applications: Hot Water Method. EPA. Office of Air and Radiation. July 1995. Nurseries have discovered similar techniques of crop protection without methyl bromide use.Moore, L. W. ''Composted Bark, Chrysanthemums and Christmas Tress,'' in Plant Diseases, vol 67, No. 6, 1983; Hoitink, H.A.J. and G. A. Kutner, ''Effects of Composts in Container Media on Diseases Caused by Soilborne Plant Pathogens,'' in Acta Horticulture, Vol. 172, 1985; and, Grossman, Joel and Jamie Lieberman. ''Alternatives to Methyl Bromide: Steam & Solarization in Nursery Crops,'' in The IPM Practitioner. Volume XVII, No. 7. July 1995.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When shipping the tons of fresh produce required for troops and commissaries overseas, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, which, for years, used methyl bromide as a fumigant prior to shipment, found that controlled atmospheres works best. ''Not only did we kill the insects during transit without using pesticides,'' said Lt. Commander Robert Gay, Military Research Officer with DLA, ''we also saved $2.8 million in transportation costs and improved the quality of produce to [the overseas armed forces and commissaries].''Methyl Bromide Briefing Kit. Quotes and contacts. Prepared by mBAN. 1995. (our emphasis)
The DLA technology has been adopted by thousands of growers and hundreds of grain elevator operators. It has cut insecticide and fumigant use by, saving millions of dollars on unnecessary chemicals in the operating costs of the growers and grain elevator operators.Fernandez, M. Pesticide Use Reduction Assessment. U S Senate Committee on Agriculture. 1994.
The health of the agricultural economy is not dependent upon the use of methyl bromide. Hyperbole permeates the rhetoric of the agribusiness special interests. They promote the myth that a ban on methyl bromide will send food prices skyrocketing through the ozone layer. In fact, most foods are not grown with methyl bromide treatment. In fact, those foods -walnuts, strawberries, grapes, for examplewould increase in price modestly. In California, the United States Department of Agriculture studied eleven crops which commonly associated with methyl bromide use. The USDA report concluded that none of the eleven crops studied would increase more than 1 percent in price if methyl bromide was excluded from the growing, harvesting and otherwise manufacturing processes.Methyl bromide briefing kit. Prepared by mBAN. 1995.
Methyl bromide is a danger to both the ozone layer and to the workers who are forced to work and live around the areas where the Category I Acute Toxin and Class I Ozone Depletor is used. Extensive use of methyl bromide at plants like the Diamond Walnut facility puts our members and all agricultural workers at extreme and unnecessary risk. Workers have often complained of nausea, tiredness, tingling feelings in hands and feet, and burning rashes. Since viable alternatives exist, there is no reason for food manufacturers to use chemicals that harm, workers and the essential ozone layer and threaten consumers.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC David Donniger has said that industry always asks for more time to comply with environmental laws. He said that the aerosol, electronics and fire extinguisher industries all claimed that meeting ozone-destroying chemical replacement deadlines was impossible. All three groups, he noted, not only met the deadlines, but beat them. ''[They] end up racing one another to be the first ones to get rid of the ozone depleting chemicals.'' he said.Morning Edition, NPR News, November 12, 1992, 9:40 am. Pressure to Ban methyl bromide. Transcript provided by Radio TV Reports. It's time for the methyl bromide producers to race to meet and beat the 2001 phaseout.
Teamster member and Diamond Walnut worker Zavala sums up the methyl bromide phaseout: How can you justify prolonging the use of methyl bromide, especially since it can be so harmful to us workers? I urge you to phase this chemical out quickly, to require warning labels for packaged food products that have been fumigated with methyl bromide and to make companies like Diamond Walnut clean up their act.Comments of Cynthia Zavala to the Environmental Protection Agency Regarding Regulation of Methyl Bromide and Ozone Protection, April 2, 1993. Washington DC.
On behalf of future generations, we have rid ourselves of the budget deficit. Now, for those very same children, we must maintain the Clean Air Act phaseout, continuing our global leadership and ensuring a competitive edge.
Mr Chairman, members of the subcommittee, the Teamsters' Union thanks you for this opportunity to comment on the phaseout of methyl bromide.
Statement of the American Farm Bureau Federation
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the Nation's largest general farm organization, representing more than 4.8 million members nationwide, including growers in Puerto Rico, submits the following testimony.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Farm Bureau strongly supports passage of H.R. 2609, the Methyl Bromide Use Act of 1998, for the very simple reason that it extends to U.S. growers the same methyl bromide phaseout restrictions that growers in other countries enjoy. H.R. 2609 helps U.S. growers to be competitive in world markets.
We would not be submitting these comments today if researchers had discovered a safe, effective and economical alternative. If such an alternative existed today, farmers all across the country would be using it. But the harsh reality is no such alternatives exists. Some of the new technologies and alternatives look promising, but the United States is likely years away from finding and registering a replacement product. A phaseout before an alternative is found will be devastating to U.S. agriculture, while handing some of our competitors in the world markets a substantial portion of our market share.
H.R. 2609 merely delays the phaseout of methyl bromide until all parties of the Montreal Protocol have agreed to and enacted a phaseout. Plus, when an alternative is found, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can begin again to phaseout methyl bromide, regardless of the Montreal Protocol schedule. H.R. 2609 is simple, straightforward and fair and we urge its swift passage.
The effort to find a replacement for methyl bromide, although impressive, has yet to surface effective results. The 1997 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions was held last November in San Diego, California. This marked the fourth consecutive year this conference has been held. It is sponsored by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA. The purpose of the conference was to bring researchers from around the world to discuss and share their methyl bromide alternatives research results. Unlike earlier conferences, the 1997 conference highlighted the growing concern and frustration that an alternative to methyl bromide would not be found in time for the January 1, 2001, methyl bromide phaseout. Earlier conferences concluded that there was enough time to complete the research to find a suitable replacement. Now, there is little optimism as it becomes clear that the phaseout date will come too soon for many uses.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Clean Air Act requires that any substance identified as a class I ozone-depleting compound must be withdrawn from production 7 years after its listing. On December 13, 1993, EPA listed methyl bromide as a class I substance with a phaseout date of January 1, 2001. The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty signed by more than 160 countries which governs the trade of ozone depleting substances. In September of 1997, the Montreal Protocol held its ninth meeting and decided to accelerate global reductions in methyl bromide use. The Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol together are creating a situation that places U.S. growers in a precarious position as we move closer to the methyl bromide phaseout date.
U.S. Growers are at a Competitive Disadvantage in World Markets
According to Montreal Protocol schedules, developed countries must cut methyl bromide use by 25 percent in 1999, 50 percent in 2001, 70 percent in 2003, with a complete phaseout by 2005. The European Union and Canada have agreed to cut agricultural use by 25 percent in 1998, 50 percent in 2001, and 100 percent by 2005. Developing countries, like Mexico, have a less stringent schedule and need only reduce methyl bromide use by 20 percent in 2005, with a complete phaseout by 2015. Mexico, the primary competitor for the U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable markets will still be using methyl bromide 14 years after the U.S. phaseout date. The Clean Air Act imposes more stringent phaseout guidelines and, as a result, U.S. growers will face unfair competition from methyl bromide users in other countries for at least 4 years and as many as 15 years.
Strawberries Hit Hardest
Florida and California strawberry production will be hit hardest as few alternatives exist to control fungal root diseases and weeds. In Florida, the problem is weed control where alternatives exist, but they have not worked well on Florida's sandy soils. If rains follow applications, these alternatives are easily leached, creating other environmental risks. As a result, Florida is anticipating a 3050 percent reduction in strawberry yields. This will drive per unit costs of production above competitive levels, turning their market over to Mexico and Latin America for fall and winter strawberry production. California has fungal root disease problems, which only higher prices and a captive market will solve. Other crops that will be hit hard are peppers, tomatoes, carrots, tree crops and vine crops.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC New economic data presented at the Alternatives Conference places the annual grower impact from a methyl bromide ban for strawberries, trees and vines, and nurseries alone at $333 million. In 1994, USDA placed the annual economic impact of a methyl bromide phaseout for all crops at $1.5 billion.
Alternatives Create Other Environmental Impacts
Two of the identified alternatives to methyl bromide are 1,3 dichloropropene and chloropicrin, which raise environmental concerns of their own. While the environmental benefits of a methyl bromide ban are questionable, those benefits will at least partially be offset by the increased use 1,3 dichloropropene and chloropicrin.
Other Alternatives Impractical
Other alternatives include composting, solarization, and steam treatment. One composting option consists of using broccoli mulch to control soil-borne diseases, an alternative that works reasonably well. Researchers have found that when broccoli breaks down in soil, it creates heat and naturally occurring chemicals that control some soil pests. Unfortunately, the United States can only generate a fraction of the broccoli mulch needed to treat the acreage affected by a methyl bromide phaseout. Also, broccoli composting controls only a fraction of the pests now controlled by methyl bromide.
Heat sterilization (steam) has also been widely touted as an effective alternative. While heat sterilization does control nematodes reasonably well, it does so at a snail's pace while consuming enormous amounts of energy, water and money.
EPA believes heat sterilization is an effective alternative and provides the following information to make its case. 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 (384 hours). 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 150,000 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.
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl Bromide's Role as an Ozone Depleter is Still Uncertain
In 1994, EPA calculated methyl bromide's ozone depletion potential (ODP) to be 0.6. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must phaseout any substance with an ODP more than 0.2. In May of 1997, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced new research results that indicated the oceans remove much more methyl bromide from the air than previously estimated. What this means is that methyl bromide remains in the atmosphere for far less time than initial calculations. The NOAA study concluded that the atmospheric lifetime of methyl bromide is 65 percent shorter than previously estimated. In 1992, scientists estimated that the lifetime of methyl bromide in the atmosphere was about 2 years. NOAA now believes it is about 0.7 years or 8.5 months. This means that the oceans absorb methyl bromide from the atmosphere at about the same rate as it is oxidized in the atmosphere.
In addition, new data also suggests that methyl bromide's ozone depletion potential (ODP) is much lower than EPA's initial estimate. Methyl bromide's ODP was first calculated at 0.6, which meant that EPA must begin a phaseout, but new evidence suggests that the ODP could be much lower. In fact, EPA now places methyl bromide's ODP at 0.39.
Methyl Iodide a Possible Substitute, But Costs More
Methyl iodide, a close chemical relative of methyl bromide appears to work just as well as methyl bromide in certain applications. Field tests in California and Florida are encouraging. More work is being done to determine its other applications.
Because methyl iodide is chemically similar to methyl bromide, there is concern that methyl iodide is also an ozone depleter and that its ODP would be above 0.2, meaning EPA would not approve its use. More research is now being conducted evaluating other health and environmental issues surrounding methyl iodide. Unfortunately, even if studies report acceptable health and environmental risks, methyl iodide would still not make it through EPA's registration process by the January 1, 2001, deadline. Plus, methyl iodide is expected to be twice as expensive as methyl bromide. Even if it proved to be an effective alternative to methyl bromide, it is not at this time an economical alternative, making it difficult for growers to compete with countries with methyl bromide phaseout dates 14 years after the U.S. deadline.
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Laboratory Studies Haven't Always Transferred Well to Commercial Applications
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.
Methyl Bromide Occurs Naturally
In spite of all the concern over methyl bromide use by farmers, its phaseout will have nary an effect on worldwide methyl bromide emissions. Methyl bromide occurs naturally and is sent into the atmosphere by a variety of sources. According to EPA data, agriculture accounts for only 20 percent of all methyl bromide emissions worldwide. The oceans emit up to 160 kilotons of methyl bromide per year, followed by biomass burning at 50 kilotons/year, leaded gasoline burning at 22 kilotons per year and agriculture at 60 kilotons/year. Even with a worldwide end to agriculture's use of methyl bromide, there will still be emissions of up to 232 kilotons/year or 80 percent of current emissions. Ending worldwide farm use of methyl bromide means we reduce methyl bromide emissions by only 20 percent.
Methyl Bromide Alternatives Technology will not be ''Pushed''
Initially, it was thought by EPA and others that an alternative to methyl bromide would be found if researchers were forced or ''pushed'' to find one. This was one of the reasons for organizing the International Alternatives Conference. American history is littered with examples of industry miraculously doing the impossible because government gave it no choice. For example, car 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. Ironically, air bags create other hazards and have not delivered upon the many claims made by consumer advocates.
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Methyl bromide, however, is different. First, methyl bromide is unique because it is a gas that kills a large number of destructive pests without harming beneficial organisms, all without leaving residues on food. 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 January 1, 2001, deadline. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act requires EPA to conduct a lengthy, careful review of every new pesticide through the registration process. While the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 contains a specific provision moving methyl bromide alternatives to the front of the registration line, even if an alternative were found today, registration would likely not produce a legally useable product until after the phaseout date. In addition, the Clean Air Act requires any methyl bromide alternative to undergo a separate review under EPA's Significant New Alternative Program. This could add substantial time to the process.
Methyl Bromide phaseout, FQPA Means Double Blow for Growers
EPA indicates that certain classes of pesticides face significant regulatory action under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). Of particular concern are the organophosphate and carbamate class of pesticides. Dr. Leonard Gianessi, of the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, predicts major crop losses and substantially increased costs for effective insect control without the organophosphate and carbamate pesticides. Plus, insect resistance to remaining pesticides would increase.
For example, without organophosphates, an outbreak of the Mediterranean fruit fly in California or Florida could quickly devastate as much as 50 percent or more of each state's fresh produce business. This is on top of the impacts caused by a methyl bromide phaseout. In the irrigated desert regions of California, Arizona and New Mexico, uncontrolled whitefly infestations could decimate the winter lettuce, cabbage, celery and tomato harvests. Some of the same crops impacted by a methyl bromide phaseout will face a double hit due to EPA's implementation of the FQPA.
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 2609 allows U.S. growers to be competitive in world markets. If it is not passed, growers of affected commodities will not be able to compete in cost and quality with our major competitors, especially in the fresh fruit and vegetable markets. If Congress does not pass H.R. 2609, methyl bromide use and emissions will continue in other countries. U.S. agriculture will live with and support a methyl bromide phaseout as long as our competitors do the same. For these reasons, Farm Bureau strongly supports passage of H.R. 2609.
Statement of California Walnut Commission
Impact of the Loss of Methyl Bromide
The U.S. English walnut industry represents about $650,000,000 in annual revenue derived from an average crop size of 235,000 short tons of uncracked walnuts worth approximately $320,000,000 farm value. About 3,000 full-time and seasonal employees work in U.S. walnut production plants. There are over 5,000 growers who raise the walnut crop along with approximately 7,000 additional people who are year-round or seasonally employed on the farm or in farm-related jobs. It is estimated that the walnut industry has an additional extended impact on California employment totaling 44,347 jobs. The California Walnut Commission (CWC) represents the industry on research promotion and public advocacy issues.
Currently methyl bromide (MB) is used as a soil fumigant to control soil-borne pathogens in nurseries and orchard sites, and as a postharvest treatment for quarantine and stored product insect control fumigation of walnuts. Because MB has been designated as an ozone depleting compound, its use as a fumigant will be curtailed by the Clean Air Act in 2001. This may place orchardists and processors at a serious competitive disadvantage and means the loss of valuable markets for California walnuts.
In assessing the economic impacts of the loss or restriction of MB, it is necessary to analyze the alternatives that are available. In the case of walnuts, none of the potential alternatives will replace MB without economic or logistical consequences. There will be a direct and dramatic impact on growers due to the increase in the cost of treatment and/or loss of production; there also is a market impact from the inability to continue to deliver high-quality walnuts on a timely basis to export markets. These two impacts have serious implications for world trade in walnuts.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Production Cost/Yield Impacts
For almost 50 years, methyl bromide alone or in combination with chloropicrin as a preplant soil fumigant provided nurserymen and growers with a unique tool to control plant pathogens, parasitic nematodes, and weeds. MB is especially important in establishing new walnut trees in old orchard sites, generally termed replant problems. The cause of replant problems is complex, but research has demonstrated that in walnut orchards a principal factor is the presence of high numbers of root lesion (Pratylenchus vulnus) nematodes.
The root lesion nematode builds to its highest population levels on walnut roots and a hypersensitive response by the plant results in a distinct decayed lesion on invaded roots. The severity of this nematode is age dependent with up to 50 percent losses in vigor of older trees to almost complete loss in replanted, sandy loam soils which represent more than half of the locations. In situations where tree growth has been visibly impaired by the second year, the affected trees may never overcome the nematode problem. As much as 85 percent of the walnut acreage has root lesion nematode present with greatest damage expected during replanting.
Nematode management in walnuts depends entirely on avoiding planting into nematode infested soils, and use of preplant fumigation. There are no effective postplant nematocides and no rootstocks are known to be resistant to root lesion nematode so growers make a critical decision whenever they decide on a partial fumigation or to not fumigate at all. The damage by nematodes is severe enough on walnut trees that without methyl bromide or an effective alternative the resulting orchards will be weaker with fewer roots and any damage associated with above ground pests/diseases will be increased due to the stressed condition of the trees.
The only reliable treatment for nematodes is methyl bromide used as a preplant treatment when replanting into soils previously planted in orchard crops. The fumigation serves the important function of killing all the remaining roots and associated nematodes within the surface 5 feet of soil profile. Without fumigation, these roots could remain alive 4 years after the old trees have been removed and the soil deep-ripped. Few growers could afford to idle their land for the 4 to 5 years necessary to achieve adequate relief from the replant problem and root lesion nematode.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Postharvest Impacts
Methyl bromide has proven to be a highly effective, fast, and an efficient means for eliminating worm pests from incoming field deliveries, as well as controlling various species of stored product insects commonly found in stored walnuts. Control of these insects is critical to our ability to maintain markets that demand insect-free walnuts. It also is the industry standard for postharvest quarantine treatments for walnuts. Some countries like Japan require fumigation of walnuts with methyl bromide prior to export to control pests (e.g., codling moth) that could be present. Ironically, it is not likely that competing producing nations would monitor and restrict the use of methyl bromide even beyond the current phaseout date of 2015.
Because there is a critical need to find replacements for this very important fumigant, considerable resources are being expended to find alternative materials. Soil fumigant candidate replacements currently being tested in replant situations include Telone (1, 3-D) and MIT (Vapam) alone and in combinations with prior fallowing periods and/or the application of systemic root killing agents (e.g, Garlon) when the old trees are removed. To date, none of these treatments have proven to be as effective as the use of methyl bromide. In fact, even if they become available, it may take many years to have them regisistered for use.
Telone is the closest replacement for methyl bromide but its use in California was suspended from 1990 to 1996. Today there are serious acreage restrictions and a limitation of 350 lb. per acre associated with its use. Excessive volatilization has been a key shortcoming to its recent use and the walnut industry has been searching for improved methods of application to limit in-field volatilization without jeopardizing efficacy. Prior to 1990, the normal treatment rates for Telone were from 400 to 800 lb. per acre largely because walnuts are grown on finer textured soils which are much more difficult to effectively fumigate compared to other tree crops. Newer methods of killing roots plus the lowered rates of Telone plus the use of a water seal containing Vapam biocide will soon receive field evaluation as a methyl bromide alternative, but it is premature to predict the results in commercial settings.
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dried walnuts are fumigated after harvest primarily for control of codling moth, navel orangeworm, and storage pests. An alternative to MB is phosphine, but unfortunately, it has the significant disadvantages of a longer treatment time (4 to 10 days or more as compared to three to twelve hours for MB) and reduced activity at lower temperatures which can be a significant problem in the fall when walnuts are harvested. In addition, it has demonstrated resistance problems for some pests. Phosphine also costs twice as much as MB.
USDA-ARS scientists at Fresno are currently investigating controlled atmosphere (CA) technology and the use of several promising candidate compounds (carbonyl sulfide, sulfuryl fluoride, and methyl iodide) as replacements for at least some of the current MB uses. Unfortunately, these tests have just begun so it is too early to judge their potential usefulness for dried walnuts. The use of CA is very slow (e.g., 5 to 7 days or more) and would be extremely difficult to accomplish with large volumes of walnuts and existing storage facilities. None of the chemicals under test are registered for commodities and the registration process may take many years.
Other treatments such as cold or heat, irradiation, and biological control have not proved successful economically or logistically in insect disinfestation and in maintenance of product quality as practical replacements of MB. Another alternative is the use of MB in recapturing facilities so there is no release of MB into the atmosphere. However, this alternative requires significant additional capital expenditures for equipment and facilities and involves higher variable costs for recycling or disposal costs. In addition, if MB is banned completely, this latter alternative is moot.
Implications for Trade
The use of MB is essential and valuable for California to ship walnuts into export markets. The key time requirement is shipments to Europe, which requires that inshell walnuts be loaded onto ships and on their way by November 1 in order to reach the European market in time for the traditional St. Nicholas Day celebrations. With peak harvest around the first part of October, the window from harvest to processing to shipping is very short. The economic consequences of a part of the inshell crop not reaching Europe in time would be large surpluses that would have to be channeled to other markets and may cause downward pressure on walnut prices.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are additional implications for trade with a cancellation of methyl bromide. The leading exporters are the United States, China, India, France, and Chile. The United States is by far the most significant exporter of walnuts, followed by China. Exports from the United States now account for 38 percent of production. This level of export means that the United States is highly dependent on the maintenance of export markets; any significant loss would have price depressing impacts on its domestic markets. Other countries also have exports as a significant percent of their production. China's exports account for 27 percent of its production, India for 61 percent of its production, and Chile for 87 percent of its production. France is an interesting case in that it imports almost as much as it exports, but exports still play a significant part of its walnut industry economy.
Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, our walnut competitors in developing nations (e.g., China, India, Chile and Turkey) are provided nearly unfettered use of MB until the year 2015 in contrast to the phaseout schedule by 2005 for developed countries. To make matters worse, our own Clean Air Act compels the phaseout of MB in the United States by January 1, 2001. No in-kind replacements for MB have been found when logistics, capital costs, and economics are considered. The implications for our competitive position in the global marketplace are obvious.
Walnuts with 85 percent of the existing acreage having root lesion nematode pose a much more serious need for MB than do other fruit/nut crops with only 3050 percent of their acreage nematode infested. Furthermore, the root lesion nematode in contrast to others is an endoparasite requiring the killing of old infested roots in order to obtain satisfactory control. MB is the only available fumigant capable of penetrating deeply into the soil and killing the old roots and the nematodes harbored within them, and the future of other potential chemical alternatives such as 1, 3-D is ambiguous at best, considering negative public perception and recent regulatory history.
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC An estimated 80 percent of soils replanted to walnut are treated. Increasing economic pressure on relatively low yielding older plantings is expected to accelerate the rate of their replacement and the need for MB fumigation until a suitable alternative can be demonstrated. Most of these replant sites can expect stunted tree growth, reduced yields, and even tree death without fumigation. Continuation of our industry representing an average crop size of 235,000 tons of walnuts, produced by over 5,000 farm families with an average farm size of 40 acres and processed by nearly 50 walnut handlers, is at risk. In addition, the loss of MB would significantly impact the livelihoods of employees hired by the walnut industry. It is estimated that there are nearly 45,000 directly related jobs.
Without the security of an acceptable replacement for MB in quarantine and insect control fumigation of harvested walnuts, the quality of the $320 million farmgate value California walnut crop is in jeopardy. The loss of value could be very significant. It could also mean the loss of valuable export markets which now account for over 40 percent of the State's production. It is estimated the walnut exports contribute an estimated $139 million to the U.S. economy. Once a market is lost, it is very difficult to regain.
The California walnut industry will aggressively seek legislation to address the issue of methyl bromide. The legislation should make changes to the Clean Air Act that will not discriminate against U.S. producers and adversely effect our ability to compete with regards to the phaseout of methyl bromide. It should recognize the very real absence of viable alternatives and authorize funding to continue the efforts to develop them. Finally, the legislation should make clear that the United States will allow the critical agricultural uses of methyl bromide including soil fumigation, post harvest, storage, distribution, quarantine and preshipment until acceptable alternatives are available.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."