Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Putting the "I" Back into IPM: Integrating Practices, Disciplines and Viewpoints to Ensure that IPM's Benefits Reach Everyone

Friends of the Western IPM Center,

As we exit the COVID pandemic, I briefly reflect here on what the Center accomplished. The pivot we all made to adjust to pandemic conditions may not be temporary and how we do business may have changed. Strengthening our connection through virtual platforms and other technologies has been an important adaptation.

The Center pivoted to hosting the IPM Hour for more than a year and this effort helped to support the IPM community in the West. As a Center we will continue to integrate lessons learned from the COVID pandemic and apply these lessons to strengthening the IPM network across the immense distances in the West.

As the new Federal Administration settles in, the Center will play an important role in reaching out to educate and inform policy makers and regulators about the utility of integrated pest management. Integrated pest management was born from the idea that sustainable pest control must rely on multiple control tools. Reliance on a single management tool can lead to unintended consequences and disruption of important ecological services.

But there are those that continue to voice the opinion that individual strategies or tactics will meet our conservation or sustainability goals and manage pests effectively. It is crucial for leaders and decision makers to realize that there are no quick fixes or shortcuts. Integrated pest management practitioners understand their systems and weigh the costs and benefits of different management tactics using all of the information available delivered to them by the state Extension services and other public and private agencies and companies. A one-size-fits-all solution doesn't exist, and each practitioner has to decide how to manage their system meeting economic, social, conservation, sustainability and other goals. The beauty of IPM is that it provides a framework so that all of the available tools are considered and integrated to arrive at smart, safe and sustainable pest management solutions.

In this upcoming year, the Center will begin the process of reconnecting with all of the disciplines involved in pest management including weed science, plant pathology, entomology, animal science, forestry and others through in-person professional meetings and other venues. Through in-person and virtual meetings, and through scientific and non-scientific articles, the Center will continue to identify and document the IPM successes in the West. Through this continuing process of documenting successes, we will continue to showcase how IPM successes are widespread and how all of the different communities in the West benefit through the adoption of IPM principles.

I also want to reiterate here the Center's commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is increasingly important that the Center hears from all stakeholders in the West who are affected by pests and pest management. We work with our Advisory and Steering Committees, state IPM coordinators, National IPM Coordinating Committee, Federal IPM Coordinating Committee and others to assure that we hear from as many communities and groups as possible as we identify pest management priorities in the West.

But there are groups and communities that are under-represented and their voices have not been heard loudly enough. I will work with our current committees and stakeholder groups to identify and reach out to those groups and communities that are historically under-represented to assure they have the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions related to pest management. By assuring that everyone has the opportunity to have a seat at the table, we will increase our chances of identifying all pest management priorities for the West and increase the likelihood that we can address those challenges.

IPM has had significant success in the past and the IPM Centers have played an important role in that success. As director, I am fully committed to the success of the Center and integrated pest management efforts to identify and implement smart, safe and sustainable pest management practices in the West.

Thank you,

Matt Baur

Director, Western IPM Center



Western IPM Center Statement Submitted to NIFA

Integrated pest management, or IPM, is smart, safe and sustainable pest management. IPM is a science-based approach that promotes ecological services and integrates prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression for managing pest populations. The practice of IPM minimizes the reliance on pesticides that can harm human and environmental health. In this way, IPM protects all Americans from the harm inflicted by pests and pest management.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that the only thing that is constant in life is change. This statement is highly relevant to pest management.

The scientific disciplines that develop pest management tools and programs must adapt to the changing needs and concerns of increasingly sophisticated stakeholders. Public investment in the development of integrated solutions to pest problems is essential for providing these stakeholders with effective alternatives that align with their personal goals including health, conservation, environmental stewardship, sustainability, economics, aesthetics, social justice and other goals. 

There are industries focused on pest management, but the private sector is focused on providing a limited range of products that align with a limited set of corporate goals. This sector is not able to provide all the solutions necessary for all of NIFA’s stakeholders and our nation’s needs. The work to develop these integrated solutions falls to organizations like Land Grant Colleges and Universities and funding agencies like NIFA.

Pest challenges are also changing and evolving as pests become resistant to pesticides, arrive from overseas or follow changing crop or weather patterns into new areas. So our management of those pests must also adapt. Meeting the ever-changing challenges relies on multi-disciplinary teams to conduct the collaborative research necessary to address the new challenges. Integrated pest management is the connecting link around which these cross-discipline teams coalesce to tackle pest management problems. The Regional IPM Centers are a vital component of that link that connects researchers, educators and Extension personnel to help them develop and deliver these novel solutions to all NIFA stakeholders. IPM practitioners are kept informed of new pest management challenges and on new ways to address these challenges through the Centers’ communication efforts and Extension and education activities funded through NIFA. 


Integrated Pest Management researchers, educators and Extension personnel have also adapted to the changes in the funding landscape. NIFA funding focused on IPM research and extension has been stagnant. So IPM researchers, educators and Extension personnel have sought funding through other NIFA programs such as OREI, SARE and AFRI. The IPM proposals to these other programs have been successful because IPM aligns with the goals of these programs. However, there is increasing concern that the core IPM funding programs needed to support the multi-disciplinary IPM teams may not be sufficient to address an increasing list of problems. 


America’s pest management challenges and societal changes require smart, safe and sustainable solutions. It is imperative that the Crop Protection and Pest Management program, a program dedicated to IPM development, be fully funded at a level that recognizes our growing challenges.