A few thoughts that might provide a “strawman” for the Ventura AFA’s discussion on fumigants (Not in any particular order):
Organic and sustainable are not the same thing. While any use of chemicals, including fumigants, is not inherently unsustainable, lower usage will tend to enhance sustainability.
AFA values clarity and consistency in applicable pesticide regulations, but we recognize that current regulations, labels and science will likely change with experience and new data. Our understanding and awareness of certain impacts will evolve over time, and our best practices will co-evolve with them.
Sustainability is based on best efforts to reduce or eliminate secondary impacts from their use, and consideration for alternative methods if practicable. Further, sustainability is not an easily identifiable end point: it is a process of continuous improvement.
Legal action may be appropriate as a means of getting redress from bad actors or pressuring regulatory agencies and policymakers, but AFA calls for safe harbor for responsible growers using approved legal practices.
AFA recognizes that all human activities carry with them certain impacts, and this includes agriculture, both conventional and organic. The challenge before us as stewards is to continually seek to minimize our impacts while still deriving the needed benefits.
Conventional agriculture is not something categorically wrong that we should seek to eliminate completely, such as violence, or racism, or disease. While seeking to reduce negative impacts, we must also recognize the positive benefits that society has received from agriculture.
The bundle of technologies and practices called the “Green Revolution”, were generally accepted as a complete package during the “Better Living through Chemistry” era of the 1950’s. That experience has shown that some of these have had differing impacts and levels of effectiveness. The task at hand is to “unbundle” these technologies and practices and keep the best, rather than reject the whole package.
Fumigants (as with many other chemicals) are potentially harmful materials that require training, professionalism, concern for others, and strict compliance with applicable guidelines to be used responsibly. AFA does not endorse careless, sloppy, or illegal usage of restricted materials.
Encourage further research and extension in the areas of alternative applications methods, materials, and cropping strategies.
In order to allow growers more choices of economically viable crops and practices, AFA should continue to promote a greater diversity of markets and distribution channels and support mechanisms such as land trusts and conservation easements to ease economic pressures that limit farmer’s options.