Editor’s note: Paul Rea recently passed the CropLife America board chair gavel to Andy Lee of Valent; however, from his tenure at the helm, Rea leaves behind a reputable legacy. In the op-ed below, Rea speaks on the many challenges and opportunities that come with production agriculture and how CropLife America helps empower growers with urgency, energy, and transparency. Rea enlightens the reader on critical areas in which CropLife America is involved, such as with the Endangered Species Act, the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, and more.
For me, it all started on a farm in New Zealand. That’s where I grew up and witnessed firsthand the tremendous challenges and opportunities that come with production agriculture, prompting me to dedicate my professional career to supporting the people who work the land year after year.
Over the course of the past two years as the CropLife America board chair, I had the great privilege of working with many industry stakeholders to further the organization’s mission of ensuring growers and consumers have the technologies they need to protect crops, communities and ecosystems from the threat of pests, weeds and diseases in an environmentally sustainable way.
The world is relying on farmers to produce enough food, fuel, fiber and many other essential products in a manner that is sustainable for generations to come. Quite frankly it’s the biggest job on Earth, and with an increasing population and decreasing resources, the stakes get higher every year. According to estimates compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we will need to produce 60 percent more food by 2050 when population is expected to top 9.3 billion. It’s also crucial that we respond to these needs with a transparent and thorough regulatory system to ensure safety and boost consumer confidence.
Fortunately, today’s farmers are ready to meet these challenges with the help of modern agricultural innovations. With advanced tools and technologies, farmers can continue to produce more with less. And, they can do all this while being good stewards of the world around us.
When I first took the CropLife America Board Chair gavel in 2020, it was my commitment to continue our journey to empower growers with urgency, energy, and transparency. Here are three high-impact topics we focused work on during that time which will shape what we do for years to come.
- We continue to support EPA’s work through registration fees established under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), the industry’s fee-for-service program, which helps to fund the Office of Pesticide Programs and provides for a more predictable registration timeline. This more predictable timeline helps build consumer confidence in effective pesticide regulation. PRIA 4 is set to expire on September 20, 2023, and there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to get done to have PRIA 5 passed by Congress this year. This is an ambitious goal, but an important one that I believe can be achieved.
- The Endangered Species Act is another critical area where CLA remains actively involved in stakeholder engagement that is aimed at shaping policies. Implementing a better process for protecting species and providing growers with the tools they need is critical, and we support robust stakeholder engagement that builds consensus and provides sufficient resources necessary to implement this process. The January 2022 announcement of a new general policy addressing the intersection of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) with the Endangered Species Act was an important first step forward and CropLife America will continue to be actively engaged in this critical area of focus.
- Employees are at the heart of our companies, and through the Pesticide Discussion and Training Program, which is designed to help build support within the industry, more than 120 of them are better equipped to become even better and more vocal spokespeople for our industry. Ultimately, this program will create more voices to speak out and advocate on behalf of the industry with hopes of impacting family, neighbors, and friends as local, state and federal decision-makers.
While I have passed on the CropLife America chair gavel to Andy Lee of Valent, a very capable industry champion, I’m excited to continue my work with this impactful organization as a board member and advocate for agriculture innovation. We’ve come a long way – and together, we’ll go even further.