Don Gilbert of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is our guest blogger this week. He manages the statewide CHEMSWEEP Program and provided this information about their historic pick-up this month!
After 20 years of serving agricultural producers in Pennsylvania, the CHEMSWEEP Waste Pesticide Disposal Program celebrates reaching the TWO MILLION POUND milestone for the collection and proper disposal of old, unwanted pesticides. An event to celebrate this milestone was held on September 26, 2012. Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, George Greig spoke as well as Lebanon County Conservation District Manager, Chuck Wertz. Don Gilbert, Environmental Specialist for the Department of Agriculture, opened and closed the event.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture started the CHEMSWEEP Program back in 1993 to provide the farming community with a safe, responsible, and economical means to clean up old pesticides. These old pesticides can become a safety hazard and environmental liability through long-term storage in barns and other areas around the farm. Twenty years ago, farmers only had a few limited options for responsible management of pesticides what were phased out by manufacturers, cancelled for use, or just too old and unusable. The Department of Agriculture recognized this need and began the CHEMSWEEP Waste Pesticide Disposal Program.
In the early years of CHEMSWEEP the participation was limited due to farmers not wanting to divulge that they had old, cancelled pesticide products. But after a few years, the word spread that CHEMSWEEP was a great mechanism for farmers to properly dispose of their old pesticides. Many heard the CHEMSWEEP message from inspectors and extension educators across the state at pesticide recertification meetings. At this point, participation in CHEMSWEEP grew very fast as farmers used the program to dispose of their pesticides stockpiles, some of which were rather large.
CHEMSWEEP has since expanded to include all agricultural and professional pesticide users, and has served thousands of farms and businesses. More recently, the CHEMSWEEP Program expanded yet again and has teamed up with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Household Hazardous Waste Program to collect pesticides at some of their HHW collection sites throughout the state, thus providing homeowners an opportunity to dispose of pesticides they no longer need or want anymore.
Lebanon County was one of the original six counties selected for CHEMSWEEP collections in 1993, so it is fitting that the two millionth pound of waste pesticide is collected on the Hoover Farm in Lebanon County. Dale Hoover even spoke at the event about the benefits of the CHEMSWEEP Program to the farming community.
At the event, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recognized the support of the pesticide manufacturers through their product registration fees. Without that steady funding source, CHEMSWEEP would not be possible. The Environmental Protection Agency was also recognized because of their support through grant funding. And finally, recognition was given to Penn State Cooperative Extension for their support and promotion of the program, and the assistance they provide to the farming community.
Until next time,