NASS annual data collection of agricultural chemical use

August 18, 2008

Mr. Ed Schafer, Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Schafer,

As a consumer owned grocery retailer, PCC Natural Markets urges you to restore funding for the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) annual data collection of agricultural chemical use.

Despite some shortcomings, NASS pesticide use data has been the only free, publicly available resource for anyone studying, monitoring, measuring — and attempting to manage — pesticide use and risks. Academics, agribusiness, environmental groups, state officials, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all have used the NASS database in weighing decisions and setting policy.

Many of us believe the NASS data is essential and that discontinuing it will hobble future research — on the effectiveness of pest management practices, how pesticides affect water quality, and to measure dietary pesticide exposures. Consumers rely on analyses of the data to guide purchasing decisions.

As a natural foods grocer doing more than $115 million in annual sales, we depend upon NASS’s objective data to answer questions from our 40,000 member households about pesticide use. We also rely on it to represent the consumer’s interest in pesticide and pest management policy decisions. Agricultural chemical use data generated by private firms not only is unreliable but also very expensive — well beyond the financial resources of most organizations and state governments.

We urge you to restore funding for NASS to continue providing regular reports on the use of agricultural chemicals. Specifically, we ask you to reinstate the NASS program of the 1990s, which surveyed chemical use on major field crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton every year; periodically on other field crops; and biennially on fruit and vegetable crops.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer
PCC Natural Markets

Stephen Johnson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Joseph T. Reilly, Acting Administrator, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Kitty Smith, Administrator, USDA Economic Research Service

Allen L. Jennings, Director, USDA Office of Pest Management Policy

Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Robert Epstein, Deputy Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Science and Technology Programs

Ann Wick, President, Association of American Pesticide Control Officials

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

The Honorable Tom Harkin, Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

The Honorable Collin Peterson, Chair, House Committee on Agriculture

The Honorable Herb Kohl, Chair, Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Chair, House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chair, Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and General Legislation

The Honorable Barbara Boxer, Chair, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

The Honorable James Oberstar, Chair, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

The Honorable Henry Waxman, Chair, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Honorable Dennis Kucinich, Chair, House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy

The Honorable Diane Feinstein

The Honorable Sam Farr

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