United Fresh members Nate Nourse, Sales Director of Nourse Farms of South Deerfield, MA and Mark Girardin, President of North Bay Produce of Traverse City, MI joined forces with fellow growers and industry representatives on April 20-21 for a series of meetings in Washington, D.C. to bring policymakers’ attention to the important and safe role that crop protection products can play in producing an abundant crop. Nate and Mark participated in meetings with key members of Congress and their staff such as Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-1), Rep. David Valadao (CA-21st) and Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42).
The group also met with USDA Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse and EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Jones. In each meeting, Nate, Mark and their colleagues raised their concerns with recent troubling indications that EPA is taking a more restrictive approach to allowing products such as pesticides in the marketplace not because of sound scientific data, but rather apparently in response to inaccurate anti-pesticide activist claims. For example, activists have claimed that a class of pesticides, called neonicotinoids, are responsible for excessive deaths in the bee population, a key pollinator for many specialty crops. In each meeting with policymakers, industry representatives offered examples of harmful pests that have been safely and effectively controlled through the proper usage of crop protection products, allowing them to safely grow an abundant crop. While on Capitol Hill, both Nate and Mark also were among the presenters at a briefing for House of Representatives Agriculture Committee staff about the value of crop protection. These meetings are the first in an expected series to keep the pressure on EPA to allow producers to have continued access to these much-needed products.