Statement on Methyl Bromide

Daniel A. Reifsnyder
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
25th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Bangkok, Thailand
October 21, 2013

Agenda Item 4.(b) Nominations for critical use exemptions for 2014 and 2015

  • The United States remains committed to phasing out our critical uses of methyl bromide.
  • Our 2015 critical use nomination (CUN) builds on the progress we have made over more than 20 years reducing our reliance on methyl bromide.
  • This progress has been made through painstaking research and testing of new alternatives, different application methods, and changes to cropping systems.
  • Our first critical-use nomination was for sixteen sectors and was for a significant amount of our baseline. Our nomination this year includes only three sectors for an amount less than 1.5% of our baseline.
  • What I would like to talk about today is our nomination for California strawberries.
  • To provide some sense of the significance of this sector, it is important to understand that every year, farmers in California plant around 40,000 thousand acres of strawberries, far more acreage than the rest of the United States combined. In 2011, growers harvested nearly 2 billion pounds of strawberries, which accounted for 88% of the United States’ total strawberry production. These farms employ tens of thousands of people every year to produce a product with an annual value of more than $2billion dollars per year.
  • This sector has taken the phase-out of methyl bromide very seriously. California growers have invested in research, adopted alternatives where they could, switched to pest-resistant cultivars, and adapted practices to maximize the use of alternatives, all of this to minimize the use of methyl bromide.
  • It is only through all these efforts of growers and researchers that we are able to announce to you here today that we are now on a path to complete the transition out of this sector by 2017.
  • However, this does not mean the difficulties for our growers are over, and they need sufficient methyl bromide in 2015 as we have requested, and again in 2016 to complete the transition to alternatives.
  • Growers need additional time to optimize and perfect application of recently approved high use rates of chloropicrin, and to continue research into alternatives, including non-fumigant alternatives.
  • Growers need time for practices and procedures to be developed, and tested so that they can use alternatives safely and effectively.
  • We are discouraged that the MBTOC has recommended a cut to this nomination despite the fact that we submitted a transition plan for the sector that makes clear we will no longer request a CUE for use after 2016. A plan that the MBTOC itself has requested, and that other Parties have asked for as well.
  • We were further discouraged that MBTOC took it upon itself to recommend an amount for this sector for 2016, when we made no request and provided no specific information on amounts other than for 2015. This is simply not appropriate and does not follow our agreed process whereby a Party puts forward a nomination, and MBTOC reviews the submitted nomination.
  • We need to find a reasonable path forward, and in doing so, let us try to capitalize on a success that this sector is committed to getting out of methyl bromide if we can provide two final years of CUE to help them make that transition. We must not lose sight of the bigger picture here, of this opportunity to reach a full transition for the sector, without leaving it in a precarious situation.
  • The last thing we want to do, or that we would find acceptable, is to run farmers out of business in the final one or two years that they need this product before the transition to alternatives takes place.
  • We therefore respectfully request that the full amount of our California Strawberry nomination be approved, and are working with Canada and Australia on a draft decision that would approve the full amount requested for strawberries and our cured pork sector.
  • I would like to close by expressing our thanks to the many stakeholders in this room who have helped make this transition in the United States. It has been an enormous amount of work, and we appreciate your efforts in helping to make this happen.
  • Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Marcotte for her long and valuable service to the Montreal Protocol.