The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce that the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program (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 (IRM) requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bttraits.
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 Btcorn growers who are not following refuge requirements and provide assistance so that they can achieve compliance. The vast majority of growers found out of compliance in 2011 were found to be complying with the IRM requirements during the 2012 season,” says Mike Smith, ABSTC IRM subcommittee co-chairman.
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 Btand 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 corn fields. 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.
“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 Btcorn technology durability.
Roger Zylstra, a grower from Lynnville, 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 Bttrait durability, and eliminates any refuge compliance questions giving 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,” says Jim Zimmerman, Chairman of the NCGA 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.”
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 www.irmcalculator.com .
Activities under the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program continue to promote refuge compliance and help preserve the Bt corn technology. Industry and grower commitment to Btcorn 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.