Last night Association President/CEO Roger Isom attended and participated in the Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Work Group Public Roundtable. Unfortunately, the meeting was a complete travesty. The stated purpose of the meeting was to present the group’s preliminary recommendations to the public and listen to the public’s reactions and comments.
What followed was an utter farce. The presentation did not include any list or hint of alternatives, and instead what was a presentation of how the agencies could conduct better outreach, carryout applied research and determine alternative approaches to pest management. None of these will solve the immediately problem of the loss of chlorpyrifos in the short term. Then the meeting was broke into small workgroups with the intent to hear comments on the proposed recommendations, discuss how farmers, workers and communities can protect a thriving agricultural industry in California while increasing the use of safety pest management tools, and finally, what the audience thought where more funding should be placed to create a more sustainable and healthy agricultural system. While these are good questions, they had little to do with the task at hand which is to find immediate alternatives to the loss of chlorpyrifos. Furthermore, the pesticide and environmental justice activists seized the opportunity to lambast farmers with accusations of corporate greed and spraying indiscriminately, and attack county agricultural commissioners for not actively enforcing the regulations. And while participants were repeatedly told to keep the comments on point and limit their time, the activists were given free reign to comment on anything they wanted, which they did in attacking agriculture on all aspects from pesticides to air quality. In one of the most revealing moments of the night, a prominent local environmental justice activist was seen co-moderating one of the Spanish sessions, in a clear conflict of interest.
In the end, the meeting did nothing it was intended to do. Rather it is clear that this event was only done to check the box that the agencies had outreached to the community, and nothing meaningful was ever intended to come of it.