New York Pest Management Program to Close

30-year service for winegrapes and other crops a casualty of state budget deficit

by Hudson Cattell
new york state ipm integrated pest management
The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program's offerings include publications, services and outreach.
Geneva, N.Y.—After more than 30 years of existence, the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program will cease at the end of March. The IPM program, which is run by Cornell University and funded through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, is the victim of the state’s estimated $10 billion budget deficit. IPM’s contract with the state was to last until June 30, but is now scheduled to terminate March 31.

In 1972, the federal government formally developed the IPM program and appropriated money for extension and research, with the funding to be routed through land grant colleges. When funds became available in 1973, Cornell and Cornell Cooperative Extension decided to start a limited program with Dr. James P. Tette as coordinator and statewide director. Initially, most of the funds were channeled into the entomology department, but in 1977 the need for a broader scope was recognized and a separate unit was established, headquartered at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

Interest in the basic concepts behind IPM began in the aftermath of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962; the term “integrated pest management” resulted from a book by that title authored by University of California scientists Robert van den Bosch and Vernon Stern in 1967. The development and use of these ideas was well underway at Cornell when the New York IPM program in New York was established, according to Tim Martinson, senior extension associate in the horticulture department at Geneva, “but the program provided an infrastructure and focal point for publicizing the system-based concepts to growers.” 

Integral to Cornell research and extension
IPM has become an integral part of Cornell’s research and extension team, and for many grapegrowers, the tools that came out of the IPM program are part of their everyday management of their grapevines. For the past 18 years, IPM specialist Tim Weigle and Andy Muza from Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension have edited and coordinated The New York and Pennsylvania Grape Pest Management Guidelines, a reference work that has both print and Internet editions. A statewide NEWA weather network was developed by New York State IPM, which is principally responsible for its maintenance.

Fruit IPM coordinator Juliet Carroll developed Trac-Grape recordkeeping software that simplifies recordkeeping for hundreds of growers and puts information into numerous and often incompatible formats for reports needed by different processors and wineries. Trac-Grape is widely used for paperwork documenting pesticide use, and it requires regular updating as product registrations and reporting requirements change. The IPM program also produces Grape Pest Fact Sheets, and last year took the lead in producing Production Guide for Organic Grapes.

In addition to publications and continuing projects, many educational services and outreach activities are organized and carried out with IPM staff support. The loss of IPM staff support would have a major impact on the state’s overall pest management program. Major funding cutbacks in the IPM program occurred last year, but the IPM staff was able to use state funding to secure between $2 million and $3 million in additional funds through grants from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and federal and private sources. Now, without state funding and an IPM staff, the program will come to an end.

How much can growers pay?

It is likely, Martinson told Wines & Vines, that some IPM projects will continue in some form, but time devoted to them would have to come from other duties. Now it is up to the industry. Martinson is asking growers to consider what products and information they value most, and how they should be packaged and supported. Possible alternative funding methods might include user fees or services that could be provided through grower cooperatives.

Dr. Donald A. Rutz, professor of veterinary entomology at Cornell University, has been the director of the New York State IPM Program since 2006. He has seen state support cut from $1.4 million in 2008 to $500,000 for the current year. In 2008 there were 21 people in the program, which includes all aspects of agriculture in the state. At present, there are 14. When the program ends, there may be seven remaining, whose work, for the time being, would be supported by grants they have already obtained or through their current jobs.

Current IPM funding gives the state a return of tens of millions of dollars in exchange for its investment. Dr. Rutz, stakeholders in the program and organizations such as the Farm Bureau hope that a key to restoring funding for the program will come from conveying the message of the program’s value to state legislators, and asking them to change their decision about the program.

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