Integrated pest management funding has seen its share of threats in the past several years. A concept that was officially introduced in the 1950 as a set of strategies for managing insect pest populations, IPM has evolved over time. The development of new combinations of chemicals, introduction of resistant crops and scientific evidence about the effectiveness of certain tactics over others have all played a part in how IPM has developed over the decades.
However, IPM is still a concept that seems to be elusive in the public eye. Although university specialists have started marking progress with IPM in schools and in urban settings, IPM is best known among agricultural professionals and farmers. Even then, definitions of what IPM is can vary widely. Because management tactics can differ depending on what the science says, defining IPM is complicated. IPM has traditionally lacked a “champion” to lobby policymakers for more money.
As a result, funding for IPM programs has steadily decreased. On October 18 and 19, 2016, representatives from various IPM programs that form the National IPM Coordinating Committee met in Washington, DC, to develop several priorities for IPM professionals to implement on a national basis. These priorities started a dialogue about a “New IPM” that would be relevant for today’s pest, disease and weed issues.
The list of priorities includes:
- Improve national capacity to support Extension IPM programs in all states and territories to deliver the technologies of the “New IPM” to users and practitioners
- Improve funding for IPM research to develop the technologies of the “New IPM”
- Develop a mechanism for aggregating a set of National IPM Priorities: thereby empowering the National IPM Program to communicate with “One Voice” to stakeholders and policy makers
- Improve partnerships and linkages with IPM groups
- Develop an improved process for aggregating reports and developing national IPM messaging (success stories)
- Improve definition of the roles of IPM Centers – aligned with NIPMCC priorities
- Empower programs to effectively impact all U.S. stakeholders – respect, consider and appreciate cultural, language and learning diversity
- Enhance awareness and engagement of students and youth in STEM and agricultural education – to promote development of the next generation of IPM practitioners and scientists
- Effectively engage in educating the public about food (Ag Literacy) to counter misinformation with science-based reports using media appropriate for mass audiences
These priorities were released in the “State of IPM Report,” compiled with the results of discussions at the meeting in October. More information about the committee and the report is located on the Regional IPM Centers website.
As is part of its complex nature, IPM is always changing. The priorities put forth in the report may help IPM professionals work together on ways to move IPM forward in the coming years.