PHILADELPHIA, PA, March 02, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program (PA IPM) at Penn State recently received a grant from the Northeastern Regional IPM Center to support the project, Bringing IPM to the Hispanic Workforce in the Mid-Atlantic Mushroom Industry.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, aims to manage pests -- such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals -- by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe, profitable and environmentally compatible. Typically, IPM approaches greatly reduce pesticide applications.
Grocery retailers are increasingly demanding documented sustainable practices to satisfy customer desires. IPM is a part of sustainable production. IPM procedures will also be useful in the expanding organic mushroom production sector.
The project will increase the risk management skills of English and especially Spanish-speaking members of the mushroom farm community. The project also includes developing programming to help Hispanic growers and employees understand the content of the private pesticide applicator certification exam. The project will be coordinated by Ed Rajotte, professor of entomology and PA IPM coordinator at Penn State; Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, Latino community outreach coordinator, PA IPM and ag safety & health programs; and Katie Poppiti, extension educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Trainings for mushroom growers are in high demand because Pennsylvania is the number one producer of mushrooms in the United States with more than 250 farms producing the common button mushroom. Penn State is also a national leader for mushroom production and IPM research, influencing growers with over 80 years of IPM research and extension activities.
Additionally, the need for IPM information for Hispanics in agricultural settings is also increasing. As reported in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2007 Census, Hispanics claim the highest rate of new farmers in the nation. The number of Hispanic principal operators grew 21 percent from 2007 to 2012. Spanish is predominantly the native language of over 80 percent of farm workers.
According to project coordinators, the grant was awarded as a result of supporting data collected from survey questionnaires completed by forty different farms in the fall of 2013. There were surveys for two different audiences: upper management (69 responses from 40 farms), and employees (25 responses from 5 farms). The data was analyzed and shared with the IPM Mushroom Advisory group to discuss future training goals and action steps.
According to survey results, nearly 90 percent of respondents expressed that it would help their business to have IPM information (articles, manuals, trainings) translated into Spanish. Nearly 89 percent agreed that programs in Spanish would help Spanish-speaking employees pass the pesticide applicator exam.
The project begins in April, 2014. Trainings and workshops will be offered throughout the next two years. For more information on these and other trainings in Spanish, go to http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/resources/espanol.
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