Pesticide Stewardship Program

Just over a year ago, Oregon established a Pesticide Stewardship Partnership (PSP) Program that helps to ensure Oregon’s water quality through pesticide monitoring, training and tools for farmers to help reduce the amount of pesticide running off into our streams and rivers, and community collection events for safe disposal of pesticides.

The PSP Program is a uniquely collaborative, Oregon solution to reduce unsafe levels of pesticides in our rivers, lakes and streams. Voluntary pesticide stewardship partnerships have helped avoid the need for a regulatory approach in some areas, providing more flexibility and control to land managers, and enabling farmers to come up with cost-saving solutions for reducing their use of many chemicals at once. The information gathered from these partnerships gives Oregon practical solutions that can inform discussion about successful strategies for pesticide reduction across the state and nationally. Already, pilot projects in Hood River and Walla Walla have significantly reduced pesticide runoff by over 90 percent.

Pesticide Stewardship Programs give farmers and land managers access to the resources of Oregon’s nationally recognized academic experts in pest, disease and weed management. Working together, farmers and experts develop pest, disease and weed control plans that protect our water resources and maintain farmers’ incomes. Community pesticide collection events give everyday Oregonians the chance to anonymously and safely dispose of unwanted pesticides, preventing leaks, spills and runoff.

Oregon Environmental Council played a leadership role in developing and advocating for passage of the Pesticide Stewardship Partnership program with our partners at Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Agriculture. The remarkable thing is that this program and it’s $1.5 million/biennium budget were unanimously supported through the legislative process by a very diverse set of almost 30 groups representing conservation, health, agriculture and forestry. The Pesticide Stewardship Program budget passed the legislature with bipartisan support.

A little over a year after the program began, we’ve already seen progress:

  • With new, dedicated funding, there will be five community pesticide collection events held this year around the state to ensure old, degrading pesticides are disposed of safely. At the first pesticide collection event, over 15,000 pounds of pesticide and 3,500 pounds of plastic pesticide containers were collected for safe disposal or recycling.
  • With new funding, communities are coming together to support monitoring for pesticides in their water, including Medford, Madras, Roseburg and Bandon.
  • $200,000 will be granted this year for projects that will prevent pesticides from entering our water systems. These grants will fund projects that provide training to farmers to reduce pesticide drift and runoff and lower risk alternative pest control methods, as well as new equipment that helps farmers see where their equipment is spraying – and where it is wasting – chemicals, so they can adjust their equipment and save thousands of pounds of chemicals from being wastefully sprayed.

The Pesticide Stewardship Program uses the best of local knowledge and state expertise to create voluntary, collaborative solutions that truly work to measurably reduce pollution.

We can all play an important role in reducing our use of high-risk pesticides that can impact our drinking water, health, pollinators and other wildlife. Use Metro’s Grow Smart, Grow Safe Guide to choose the lowest-risk pest and weed control strategies for your yard: http://www.growsmartgrowsafe.org

Photo: Lauren Kerns

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