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The legislature finds that public concerns are increasing about the need for significant efforts to develop sustainable systems in agriculture. The sustainable systems would address many anxieties, including the erosion of agricultural lands, the protection and wise utilization of natural resources, and the safety of food production. Consumers have demonstrated their apprehension in the marketplace by refusing to purchase products whose safety is suspect and consumer confidence is essential for a viable agriculture in Washington. Examples of surface and ground water contamination by pesticides and chemical fertilizers raise concerns about deterioration of environmental quality. Reducing soil erosion would maintain water quality and protect the long-term viability of the soil for agricultural productivity. Both farmers and farm labor are apprehensive about the effects of pesticides on their health and personal safety. Development of sustainable farming systems would strengthen the economic viability of Washington's agricultural production industry.
Public anxieties over the use of chemicals in agriculture have resulted in congress amending the federal insecticide, fungicide and rodenticide act which requires all pesticides and their uses registered before November 1984 to be reregistered, complying with present standards, by the end of 1997. The legislature finds that the pesticide reregistration process and approval requirements could reduce the availability of chemical pesticides for use on minor crops in Washington and may jeopardize the farmers' ability to grow these crops in Washington.
The legislature recognizes that Washington State University supports research and extension programs that can lead to reductions in pesticide use where viable alternatives are both environmentally and economically sound. Yet, the legislature finds that a focused and coordinated program is needed to develop possible alternatives, increase public confidence in the safety of the food system, and educate farmers and natural resource managers on land stewardship.
The legislature further finds that growers, processors, and agribusiness depend upon pesticide laboratories associated with manufacturers, regional universities, state departments of agriculture, and the United States department of agriculture to provide residue data for registering essential pesticides. The registration of uses for minor crops, which include vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, nursery and greenhouse crops, and reregistration of needed chemicals, are activities of particular concern to ensure crop production. Furthermore, public demands for improved information and education on pesticides and risk assessment efforts justify these efforts.
The legislature further finds that multiple alternatives are needed for pest control, including programs for integrated pest management, genetic resistance to pests, biological control, cultural practices, and the use of appropriate approved chemicals.
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