IR-4 Program


California's agricultural production includes more than 400 commodities. Most of these commodities are considered “specialty crops,” with relatively low acreage but high-value, e.g., fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Pesticide manufacturers are more likely to register their products for high-acreage crops which can generate more sales. California specialty crops are vulnerable to pesticide regulatory cancellation and restrictions as they often have comparatively few pesticides registered for use and alternatives. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a program called the Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4) which directly addresses the relative dearth of pesticide products for specialty crops. The IR-4 selection process favors both synthetic and organic products which are reduced risk to public health and work well in integrated pest management systems. However, the program is funded at the national level, which does not allow for the timely development of alternates to keep up with the delisting and new restrictions on existing pesticides. OPCA is using funding to address the extensive backlog of IR-4 projects requested by California commodities, thus providing growers flexibility as regulations are tightened on existing registered products.