Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pathways to the Next Generation of IPM

Why: To improve the dialogue about pests, pesticides and integrated pest management.
Who: The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California Statewide IPM Program, in a project known as Pests, Pesticides and IPM.
How: Through a two-year series of workshops, focus groups and conversations leading to an April 17 IPM Summit held for a packed house in Davis, California.

What’s Next? Making it happen.

At the summit, the Pests, Pesticides and IPM team presented recommendations and summit speakers shared ideas on how to move IPM forward to an audience of more than 200.

“One things I was happy about was that pretty much everyone accepted the idea that pests are part of the human experience and everyone has to manage pests,” said Jim Farrar, director of UC IPM. “That’s a good shared foundation. What we have to agree on as a society is how we manage pests.”

The recommendations from the project team were distilled from listening sessions focused on pest management in landscapes, structures and agriculture, plus workshops focused on policy and communications and technology and innovation.

“The recommendations were a synthesis of these meetings we held all around the state,” Farrar said. “They’ll also be captured in a white paper published later this summer.”

Here are the team’s recommendations, what it called pathways to the next generation of IPM:

1)    Re-invest in IPM at every level: basic and applied research, extension, and education.
2)    Increase critical thinking and creative solutions about pests and pesticides by using best practices, such as systems thinking, that engage diverse stakeholders in local and regional innovation collaborations.
3)    Make it easier for individuals, businesses, farms, agencies and organizations to choose integrated approaches to managing pests and pesticides:
a)     Drive the demand for IPM through synergistic partnerships with industry, commodity, community, educational, research, and government organizations.
b)    More effectively partner with pest management professionals and practitioners to become trusted advocates for effective IPM.
c)     Partner with the retail industry to improve resources available to consumers about selection of reduced risk pest management solutions.
d)    Be creative in engaging community organizations, homeowner associations, and other non-traditional partners, particularly those groups that are trusted by California's diverse communities, to increase their capacity for representation and engagement in IPM.
e)    Create incentives for IPM that focus on reduced-risk pest management, resource conservation, sustainability, communication, and use of social sciences to increase adoption of IPM.
4)    Bring new pest management tools, practices, and technology, including reduced-risk active ingredients, to market more quickly by reducing regulatory hurdles, particularly for biopesticides.
5)    Take advantage of the front-line knowledge and role of field workers and municipal applicators to improve early detection of pests, recommend lower risk approaches, safe practices in the workplace and at home, and to effectively interact with the public.

The project ends in September, but Farrar is hopeful that the conversation will continue and focus on ways to move the recommendations forward to help make IPM the way everyone manages pests.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Remembering Former Center Director Rick Melnicoe

Rick Melnicoe was a fixture in Western agriculture for decades.

As the regional coordinator of the specialty crop pesticide program known as IR-4, or the director of the Western Pesticide Impact Assessment Program, or the founding director of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, Rick met with, worked with, ran with and influenced a lot of people.

Here a few voices from that chorus.

“My memory of Rick was that he was very practical,” said Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, who was a co-director and director of the Northeastern IPM Center while Rick led the Western Center. “He was very level-headed. He knew an lot about pesticides and pesticide safety and was able to use that knowledge.”

Rick chaired the Regional IPM Centers joint meetings shortly after Carrie joined the group, and she learned from his leadership.

“He was one of the people who shaped my early experiences and expectations about the job,” she said. “I was grateful to him for providing a role model for me.”

Rick was an avid runner, and fast. Idaho’s Ronda Hirnyck, who worked with Rick for years in IR-4 or other programs, remembers getting dropped by Rick on an early morning run in New Orleans and yelling for him to stay in sight.

“We’d start out tighter on runs, but never finish together.”

Rick was frugal with taxpayer funds and didn’t spend them easily. He was networked throughout the West and nationally, and able to advocate for Western needs and priorities.

Former Southern IPM Center Director Jim VanKirk remembers Rick’s ability to move past confrontations or difficult encounters and maintain relationships and friendships with people.

“He’d take care of other people,” Jim said. “He was strong. You could count on him to try to move past difficult things and get people to try to move forward together. If there were 300 million people like Rick in this country, we would be a lot better off."

Rick brought binoculars on trips and a list of birds he hadn’t seen in the wild.

While serving as director of the Western IPM Center, he also ran California’s Office of Pesticide Information and Coordination. Lisa Blecker took over that portion of Rick’s responsibilities when he retired in 2012.

“He never seemed stressed or frazzled,” she said. “I have no idea how he did that. He was always calm and collected, just getting it all done without making a fuss about anything. He was so even tempered.”

Rick had opinions and would advocate for them, but would also change his mind when presented with a better idea. He believed in science-based solutions. People remember that.

Diane Clarke, former Center writer, remembers Rick’s generosity, kindness and friendliness.
So do others.

“He was great with people,” Ronda said. “You could always count on him.”

“He was just a good person,” Jim said. “He always seemed to do the right thing.”

“I really think he was a good soul,” Carrie said. “He had higher goals and really worked to see people succeed together.”

See Rick's obituary in the Sacramento Bee

Monday, November 6, 2017

Reflections from the USDA-NIFA listening session in Sacramento

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting stakeholder input so it can prioritize science emphasis areas, identity program gaps and eliminate unneeded programs. NIFA is looking for ideas from all of their stakeholders and a few of us gathered in Sacramento to talk about Western needs. 

The following things resonated with me as I watched colleagues from a variety of disciplines and organizations speak.  

Colleagues emphasized the uniqueness of the Western United States. We heard them talk about our climates and the things that are problematic because of those climates like drought, fire and invasive species. They brought up unique needs of our residents who work on our farms and live in our cities.

Colleagues emphasized developing interdisciplinary programs. We talked about the need to fund programs that span food production to consumption. They encouraged NIFA to integrate existing programs and to fund work in policy.

Colleagues emphasized the need to protect our food supply. Pests were mentioned consistently as well as food safety, food waste, nutrition and protecting farm workers.   

Many of the things that were said align with the goals of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center but I feel like Westerners have more to say.

Now would be a good time to talk to NIFA about specialty crops and our experiences with the programs that NIFA has designed around those crops. Now would be a good time to talk about the interface between urban centers, natural areas and farms and the challenges and opportunities that these intersections bring. And, now would be a good time for commodity commissions to dust off the priorities in their pest management strategic plans and highlight unique needs. Westerners could weigh in on how NIFA programming impacts our daily lives while discussing the challenges we face in funding the work we want to do, especially as we lose more colleagues to retirement.

You can see what was said word-for-word in the Kansas, Georgia, and California sessions and submit a written comment at https://nifa.usda.gov/nifalistens. I think it is well worth your time because they are truly listening.