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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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EPA Awards NMSU Extension $40,000 to Supplement Program

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service is assisting a nationwide Environmental Protection Agency program designed to help farmers protect themselves and their water supply.

Farm-A-Syst is a voluntary program to help agricultural producers prevent groundwater pollution. The EPA has awarded NMSU's Extension Plant Sciences department a $40,000 grant to design a new chapter on pesticide use for the program, said Craig Runyan, NMSU Extension water quality specialist.

"What we hope the chapter will do is allow farmers, ranchers and others using pesticides to assess the level of risk in their management practices, such as mixing/loading facilities, determining the target pest or the size of their field, and all the different ramifications involved with management and alternate use of pesticides," Runyan said.

By using the Farm*A*Syst program, commercial pesticide users may avoid heavy fines for not complying with EPA standards, he said. An advantage of voluntarily using the program is that it's done confidentially and gives users an opportunity to correct ineffective management practices.

"For example, if a producer or an operator is found to have problems with his operation, then a regulator may come in and fine him or give him a time frame in which to improve the condition," Runyan said. "But this program allows a producer to work on his own schedule as long as there are no imminent health hazards, to improve conditions."

Runyan, working with Joanie DeBerry, Extension pesticide applicator training specialist, will begin developing the chapter this fall. The team expects to complete program testing on 50 New Mexico farms by September 1996.