EPA Announces $2M Pesticide Initiative

On Monday, Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $2 million initiative to encourage “smart, sensible, and sustainable” pest control. The announcement occurred at a Mississippi Farm Bureau and EPA event. 

The initiative is reportedly an extension of the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP), run by the EPA. Under the initiative, states or state agencies, territories, cities, tribes, universities, colleges, and other nonprofit institutions are eligible to apply for up to $200,000 grants to help implement pest management practices that would help create a “healthier environment.” 

“With the extension of this multi-million-dollar initiative, the Trump Administration is providing growers with the additional resources they need to cut down on the environmental risks of both pests and pesticides,” Wheeler said in the press release. “Together, EPA and the agricultural community are building on our already strong foundation of sustainable pest management practices.”

The press release explained that the EPA plans to award the $2 million throughout this fiscal year to applicants who are willing to explore solutions to promote integrated pest management (IPM). The press release explained, “traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides. IPM, in contrast, combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.” 

According to the press release, the EPA currently partners with more than 400 organizations through the PESP to help make pesticides more environmentally friendly.  It explained that the program has invested “nearly $4 million annually to support more than 100 successful grants, awards, and collaborative efforts.” One focus of the PESP is to promote IPM in agriculture and schools. The program has also supported sustainable pest management projects in various region-specific projects. 

Currently, the EPA is involved in a legal suit over a recent rule change that farmworker advocacy organizations and states claimed could lead to more harmful exposure to pesticides.