Putting the Farm Bill to Work: Increasing the Ability of Asparagus, Cherry and Nursery Producers to Adopt Reduced Risk IPM Practices
Increased funding levels for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in 2002 created a new and unprecedented opportunity in Michigan for reducing pesticide risks. However, most minor crop growers are either unaware that EQIP exists or have difficulty with its unfamiliar bureaucratic procedures. This project is a collaborative effort between the Center for Agricultural Partnerships, Michigan State University IPM Program, Cherry Marketing Institute, Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association, and Gerber Products to increase the ability of minor crop growers to use EQIP in support of IPM adoption. A baseline survey of asparagus and cherry growers in 2003 discovered that less than 40 percent of growers were aware of EQIP and only 20 percent had ever tried to apply for participation. For nursery growers the level of awareness was significantly lower. The project seeks to overcome the obstacles to grower participation by 1) Increasing awareness and knowledge of cherry, asparagus and nursery growers throughout western Michigan so that they can successfully apply to EQIP for support in the adoption of reduced risk IPM practices; and 2) Developing working relationships with NRCS at the state and county levels to achieve necessary policy and procedural changes so that cherry, asparagus and nursery growers can use EQIP to support adoption of reduced risk IPM practices.
Outcome: Create awareness of EQIP among 1,000 growers in seven counties and work with NRCS to incorporate technical changes to EQIP resulting in 200 growers able to apply for EQIP funds by March 2005.
Progress: In April, 2004, project staff worked with MSU staff, Gerber representatives and each of the participating commodity groups to develop a work plan. This work plan is now being used to assess progress in meeting project objectives. Extension staff in fruit and vegetable production have drafted a comprehensive set of reduced risk pest management practices in apple, cherry and vegetable production that is currently under review by crop consultants and county agents. Once that review is completed, the practices for which new incentive payments rates are need will be identified. MSUE staff have also started to develop a set of appropriate practices for nursery production.