A Win-Win Pesticide Policy?
New Report: Tax Policy Can Preserve Environment, Cut Pesticide Use
There is more to agriculture than just pouring toxic chemicals all over the land. A modernized agriculture, with less pesticide use, is actually stronger economically.
Friends of the Earth and other organizations have released a "Green Watchdog" report, calling for higher taxes on environmentally-destructive practices.
California's farmers struggle with plummeting prices and fierce competition. According to a new report, "Healthy, Fair and Profitable: A Win-Win Pesticide Policy", released as part of the Green Watchdog project, California's lagging farm sector could actually improve its economic situation by reducing use of pesticides.
Every year farmers shell out more money for increasingly expensive pesticides in a hopeless race against insects that grow more resistant with each application. Meanwhile, demand for certified organic and non genetically modified foods is skyrocketing due to growing concern about the dangers of pesticides and rising global political opposition to bio-engineering.
Economist Gary Wolff's analysis of rising costs of pesticide use and successful experiments in pesticide reduction suggests that farmers could actually save money by reducing pesticide use. The report also considers organic product markets and concludes that there is tremendous potential for the economic future of California agriculture in a transition to practices that reduce or eliminate pesticide use.
The new state budget is under severe pressure, and funding for the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is unstable. Pesticide regulation costs California taxpayers over 30 million dollars annually. These costs do not include higher costs of pesticide-related damage to health and the environment.
The new report recommends a two-part policy: create market incentives to reduce pesticide use by increasing pesticide ("mill") fees, and use the fee revenue to fully fund the DPR and invest in education and transition to sustainable practices. The state should consider cutting-edge clean agricultural technology a worthwhile investment, instead of continuing to subsidize harmful practices.
The Green Watchdog project which includes Friends of the Earth, Green Capitol, the Pacific Institute, the California Tax Reform Association and others will be recommending these policy changes to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, and to the state legislature in the coming year.
Which makes more sense, subsidizing the use of pesticides, or taxing their use? Will people listen to the Green Watchdog report? Tell your opinion to the Progress Report:
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