and lower prices. Government investment is needed to provide optimal levels of public goods so that incremental social benefits are equal to incremental social costs.
The public sector consists of various layers of government (local, state, federal, and international). In theory, each level of government addresses problems that affect its constituency. The justifications of government intervention in the management of pest control include the need to address the externality problems associated with the human and environmental health effects of pesticides and the information uncertainties regarding pesticides and their impacts. The performance and value of pest-control technologies depend on their specific properties and the manner of their application. The regulatory process has been designed to screen out the riskier materials. However, few incentives exist for efficient and environmentally sound pest-control management strategies. Introduction of incentives that would reduce the reliance on riskier pest-control strategies and encourage the use of environmentally friendly strategies is likely to lead to increased efficiency in pesticide use. Such incentives as taxes and fees for the use of various categories of chemicals have been recommended, but because of user objections they might not always be politically feasible. Users might prefer subsidies to reduce pesticide loads, but this policy may strain the public budget.
Establishing regional pesticide targets and implementing them through tradable permits is a better solution that will achieve the same outcome. Because the environmental effects of pesticides can vary with location, one policy approach to reduce pesticide use in an environmentally sensitive area is to institute programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to modify their behavior in a way that will promote improved environmental quality. Another practical policy that seems to have worked is to condition entitlement to government programs on meeting specified criteria of environmental stewardship. Because pest-control devices are often used as mechanisms to reduce uncertainty, experiments with subsidized insurance schemes against pest damage might constitute another avenue to induce adoption of improved pesticide practices.
Worker-safety concerns have emerged as a major problem associated with pesticide use. There have been some important improvements, owing, in part, to the mandates of the 1992 Worker Protection Standards (WPS) and the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, but the search for more-efficient policies should continue. Development of these policies might entail investment in research to improve monitoring on the farm to allow more precise responses to changes in environmental conditions. Some of the presentations to the committee suggested that worker-safety prob