Chemical harmonization Progress Report
April 15, 2004
For years we have been talking about chemical harmonization, says Jim Gray, North Dakota Department of Agriculture pesticide specialist. We are making progress.
A harmonization task force is using pulse crops as a test case for harmonization.
Growers in Canada and Mexico have strongly endorsed the project. U.S. pea and lentil groups are actively supporting the harmonization of pulse crop chemicals. U.S. Dry bean groups are interested and are watching the groups progress, Gray says.
Heres what Gray says the Canadian and U.S. harmonization negotiators want:
" Canadian farmers mostly want access to crop protection chemicals labeled in the U.S., but not in Canada. Examples in pulse crops include broadleaf herbicides, fungicides and seed treatments for peas and lentils.
" U.S. farmers want a free market so that they can buy products that are labeled in U.S. and Canada, but cost less north of the border. North Dakota Ag Departments annual survey of chemical prices shows that North Dakota growers paid $21 million more than their counterparts in Canada for the essentially the same chemicals.
Products on the list that can be used on dry beans included Basagran, which costs cost $1.76 less per acre in Canada, and Eptam EC, which cost $1.59 less per acre.
It adds up to serious coin, Gray says. It puts U.S. growers at a serious disadvantage.
Both U.S., Mexican and Canadian groups want regulators to harmonize the labeling, testing and regulation of products so that products are commercialized faster and are simultaneously cleared for use in all three countries. If pesticide labels are harmonized, they also expect that the practice would end blocking imports of a commodity due to the pesticides used to produce it.
The harmonization task force is scheduled to meet several times in 2004. Gray says he expects it will make progress on pulse crop chemical harmonization.
In the meantime, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has introduced a chemical harmonization bill in the U.S. Senate.
If chemical harmonization is achieved, Gray says growers in all North American countries would have access to the same pesticides as their counterparts. They would pay similar prices and they would have a free market for what they produce.