In light of recent events it is difficult for all of us to return our focus to the business at hand. Crops must be harvested and plans made for the next plantings.
What is the right mix of crops? How much wheat do we plant in November? What will cotton bring? Do we plant beans next April/May? Will we still have some sort of peanut program? If so, what will it be?
All these decisions by growers seriously affect the mix of pesticide products that our industry must manufacture and distribute in order to have the needed items available at the right time and in the right quantities.
Our industry, like the rest of the country, has been in turmoil. It seemed several years ago that “life sciences” was the way everybody in our industry was going. Monsanto had the lead but most others were moving fast. — Then even as growers planted more and more GMO seed, resistance particularly in Europe, caused many companies to wonder if this new technology would ever be profitable. Many of the “big boys” (major drug and chemical companies) now, it seems, have decided that “life science integrated companies” are not the way to go and are separating their ag divisions from pharmaceuticals.
Most ag divisions of the major companies are rapidly being set up as independent operating companies, readily available for spin off to the first willing and well-heeled buyer.
As our companies sort themselves out for the future, regulatory problems and attacks by environmental activists continue unabated. The effort to rid the country of so-called “unsafe pesticides” is as strident as ever. Not having great success with direct intervention in Washington, focus seems to be on dealing in indirect ways to eliminate the use of pesticides — GMO's and all.
In the U. S., more and more efforts are being made using obscure provisions of the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act to thwart the use of pesticides. Costs to our industry to fight all the various lawsuits are astronomical.
Yet we must continue fighting if we are to stay in business and have available for the farmer the best products possible when needed and at a fair and reasonable price.
We will continue to do our best and need the support of all to make and keep production agriculture a strong and viable occupation.
Ed Duskin is executive vice president of the Southern Crop Protection Association.