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‘Change’ is the operative word at RISE Industry Issues Breakfast

February 13, 2017 -  By
Aaron Hobbs

Aaron Hobbs speaks to RISE members and golf course superintendents at the annual Industry Issues breakfast at the Golf Industry Show 2017.

“Where should we begin today?” Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) President Aaron Hobbs asked a crowd of members and golf course superintendents attending the organization’s annual Industry Issues Breakfast Feb. 8 at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando.

“We did have an election. How about we start there,” said Hobbs, after a lengthy pause.

“How will the election of Donald Trump as president affect our industry? We don’t know. It’s too soon. Time will tell, though,” Hobbs said.

Change at the EPA

The Trump administration named Scott Pruitt Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, but that appointment has yet to be confirmed by Congress.

Selections for a trio of other key EPA posts—Assistant Administrator, Office of Water; Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention; and Deputy Director of Pesticide Programs—have yet to be made.

Ryan Zinke has yet to be confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Interior, and selections have yet to be announced for the Department’s Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary positions with Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Perhaps some of the delay has to do with Trump’s administration needing to fill a few thousand government positions.

“The new administration did dispel an early report that the plan is cut the EPA to about 5,000 staffers,” Hobbs said. “That’s good news for the EPA, and for our members who need their pesticides and fertilizers reviewed and registered in a timely manner. It’s also good news for professional end users and their clients, because we’re all in this together.”

Change in regulatory issues

The antipesticide movement is constantly changing and growing, Hobbs said. Today’s top issues, and recent wins and losses, include among others:

  • Neonicotinoid-restricting laws were passed last year in Maryland and Connecticut, but not without a fight by RISE and its grassroots defenders of specialty professional products.
  • Minnesota and several localities are paying close attention to the new neonic restrictions, and may try to follow suit.
  • The EPA’s neonics risk assessment is underway.
  • RISE scored a few successes regarding how managed pollinator protection plans and how national metrics are be set up.
  • In an effort to defend preemption, RISE filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Md. “We feel cautiously optimistic about the outcome there,” Hobbs added.

Next up, RISE plans to make an effort to educate millennials in the Midwest about the myriad benefits of specialty professional products and services in protecting public health and property. Stay tuned: More information will be forthcoming later this year.

Last but not least, RISE’s Governing Board has selected an updated logo for the organization, and will unveil the new insignia shortly.

“More than ever before, we need RISE members to step up their participation and grassroots advocacy,” Hobbs said. “Activists increasingly are taking the fight local, and changing the rules—extending the time clock and moving the goal post forward—doing whatever they can to get their anti-pesticide plans passed.

“But our greatest obstacle is division—both within our industry and within our customer base,” Hobbs added. “United we must stand.”

Jonathan Sweat, chair of RISE’s Governing Board and BASF’s director of specialty & professional solutions, concurred.

“We need to enter the pesticide conversation earlier, helping steer public perception before it becomes public policy,” Sweat said. “We especially need to enter social conversations earlier, and be more proactive in driving home our environmental stewardship message to customers and policymakers.”




About the Author:

Marty Whitford is an award-winning journalist and editorial leader at North Coast Media. He is publisher of Landscape Management's sister magazine, Pest Management Professional. He's a graduate of Kent State University’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication and he served a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy.

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