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Methyl bromide is a critical soil fumigant used in the production of several fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the U.S. The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1992, as amended in 1998, requires that methyl bromide be phased out of use by 2005. A mathematical programming model of the North American vegetable market indicates that the elimination of methyl bromide will have significant impacts on U.S. growers of fruit and vegetables that rely on methyl bromide for soil fumigation purposes. The schedule for eliminating methyl bromide has resulted in a 50% decline in methyl bromide availability and has resulted in significant increases in the price of methyl bromide. The vegetable industry has not felt the impact that the reduction in methyl bromide may have, however, as increases in price have partially offset the decline in overall availability. Increases in price have reduced the use of methyl bromide for lower valued uses, and new application technologies have reduced the required application rate of methyl bromide for effective control of pests and diseases. Larger impacts on the fruit and vegetable industry are expected as the 20% reduction in 2003 and the total elimination in 2005 are imposed.


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