NCGA Reports More Farmers Complying With Corn Refuge Requirements

NCGA Reports More Farmers Complying With Corn Refuge Requirements

National Corn Growers Association reports the Compliance Assurance Program for Bt corn refuge planting is seeing good success.

The National Corn Growers Association says the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program or CAP, which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, is seeing strong success and an increase in the number of growers planting their corn refuge.

The CAP is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of companies that have registered Bt corn hybrids for sale to farmers, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.

FOLLOW REFUGE RULES: "We're pleased to see the strong adoption of integrated refuge products by growers of Bt corn coupled with the overall decline in growers not planting refuge acres," says Jim Zimmerman, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. "The vast majority of corn growers have always followed Bt refuge requirements to help protect the efficacy of this important technology, but all growers must follow these requirements to help preserve the long-term value of this technology."

In 2011, ABSTC launched a new IRM on-farm assessment program that focuses more assessments on growers who may not have purchased sufficient refuge seed according to their purchase records. "The on-farm assessment process has proven to be an effective mechanism to identify Bt corn growers who are not following refuge requirements. Seed companies can then provide assistance so that these farmers can achieve compliance," says Mike Smith, co-chairman of the ABSTC/IRM committee. "The vast majority of growers found out of compliance in 2011 were found to be complying with the IRM requirements during the 2012 season."

In addition to on-farm assessments, an anonymous IRM grower survey was conducted. Highlights of the survey indicate a decrease in the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres and strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or seed box.

The CAP continues to be effective for all Bt corn products with structured refuge requirements

In 2012, the majority of growers surveyed planted the required refuge size on their farms and the majority of growers surveyed planted a refuge within the required distance for all of their Bt cornfields. Furthermore, the survey indicates that the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres has declined from 16% in 2011 to less than 10% in 2012.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

"We are pleased to see that the number of corn growers not planting a refuge declined last season," says Nick Storer, ABSTC steering team member. "We will continue to focus our education efforts in areas of highest risk of insect pest resistance development in the Corn Belt, as well as the cotton growing area, where IRM continues to be important."

Adoption of integrated refuge products result in automatic compliance in the Corn Belt

The 2012 survey was the first year integrated refuge products were included, and 50% of growers indicated they planted an integrated refuge product on their farm. ABSTC projects that the adoption of integrated products will continue to increase, contributing to the overall increase in compliance, which helps preserve the durability of Bt corn technology.

Roger Zylstra, a grower from Lynnville in central Iowa, planted integrated refuge products on his farm last season. "Planting integrated refuge products is a very convenient way to manage my corn acres," says Zylstra. "It's simple, saves time, is the responsible thing to do for Bt trait durability, and eliminates any refuge compliance questions. The bottom line is it gives me peace of mind."

"We're pleased to see the strong adoption of integrated refuge products by growers coupled with the overall decline in growers not planting refuge acres," said Jim Zimmerman, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. "The vast majority of corn growers have always followed refuge requirements to help protect the efficacy of this important technology, but all growers must follow these requirements to help preserve the long-term value of this technology."

All corn growers must follow refuge requirements to help preserve long-term value of Bt technology

The ABSTC continues to promote education programs and strategies to preserve the efficacy of Bt technology. As part of these efforts, all seed registrants have incorporated prominent graphics illustrating the required refuge size of the seed product on the seed bag or bag tag. In addition, the ABSTC continues to partner with NCGA to ensure that NCGA's membership and networks are fully informed of refuge requirements and the CAP. One collaborative example is the NCGA IRM calculator. Farmers can access the IRM calculator via computer, tablet or a smart phone by simply logging on to the IRM calculator website.

Activities under the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program continue to promote refuge compliance and help preserve the Bt corn technology, says Zimmerman. He adds, "Industry and grower commitment to Bt corn product stewardship is further demonstrated through the implementation of the enhanced CAP and rapid adoption of integrated refuge products in the Corn Belt. With the introduction of integrated refuge products, growers have an additional choice in adhering to refuge requirements."

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