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Interstate Compacts Overview

 

Interstate compacts are agreements between two or more states that bind them to the compacts' provisions, just as a contract binds two or more parties in a business deal. As such, compacts are subject to the substantive principles of contract law and are protected by the constitutional prohibition against laws that impair the obligations of contracts (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10). Compacts between states are somewhat like treaties between nations. Compacts have the force and effect of statutory law (whether enacted by statute or not) and they take precedence over conflicting state laws, regardless of when those laws are enacted. However, unlike treaties, compacts are not dependent solely upon the good will of the parties. Once enacted, compacts may not be unilaterally renounced by a member state, except as provided by the compacts themselves. Moreover, Congress and the courts can compel compliance with the terms of interstate compacts. That's why compacts are considered the most effective means of ensuring interstate cooperation. Historically, compacts have been enacted for a variety of reasons, though they were seldom used until the twentieth century. More than 200 interstate compacts exist today. On average, a state belongs to 25 interstate compacts. There are 22 compacts that are national in scope, several with 35 or more member states and independent administrative commissions. More than 30 compacts are regional in scope, with 8 or more member states.  (from Council of State Governments website)

 

The Interstate Pest Control Compact


Every year plant pests cause over 137 billion dollars in damage to the country’s agricultural and forest crops and products.[1]  And many of the same marauding pests also attack lawns, gardens, and the general environment with further unestimated destructive consequences.  These losses occur despite the expenditure for control measures of more than ten billion dollars annually by local, state and federal governments, farmers, private timber interests and other owners of private property[2].

However, with rare and temporary exceptions, existing technology and research capabilities are adequate to provide the means for effective control, suppression, or eradication of pests.   A major reason why this know-how is not always effective in curtailing staggering losses is that pests are not localized in their activities.  They move about all too easily, naturally under their own power, and artificially through trade and transport of infested agricultural products, by “hitch-hiking” on air, sea, and land vehicles, in shipping containers and even among the personal effects of travelers.  Consequently, the timely and coordinated efforts of many jurisdictions and agencies are necessary for effective pest control action. 

While the federal government administers the nation’s plant pest safeguarding program, many state/federal cooperative programs require a considerable influx of state money and personnel, which is sometimes not available.  Likewise, too often federal dollars are restricted to funding control programs against exotic pests and do not adequately address domestic pest problems that may threaten a single or a small group of neighboring states.


Formation of the Interstate Pest Control Compact

 

The Interstate Pest Control Compact (IPCC) was formed in 1968 with the assistance of the Council of State Governments.  It serves to remedy funding restraints, bridge the jurisdictional gaps that exist among federal and state governments and more adequately address the realities of dynamic plant pest infestations or outbreaks.  Through contractual agreements, the Compact allows individual states to contribute to plant pest control, suppression, or eradication beyond their state boundaries.   Currently there are 39 parties to the Compact.  In 2006 the Compact adopted Articles of Association which clarified that The Interstate Pest Control Compact is organized exclusively for the charitable purpose of providing financial assistance to States who may not have the necessary resources to combat plant pest infestations that threaten the agricultural and natural resources of other states impacted by that infestation. On December 6, 2006, the United States Internal Revenue Service determined that effective September 18, 2006, the Interstate Pest Control Compact (IPCC) is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Interstate Pest Control Compact are deductible under section 170 of the Code. The Interstate Pest Control Compact is also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2016 or 2522 of the Code.


The Pest Control Insurance Fund  

Grecian foxgloveEach state has an interest in being protected against infestations originating in other states, but such protection requires mutuality of arrangements.  The Compact serves to accomplish this mutuality by applying the insurance principle to the pest control field.  A Pest Control Insurance Fund has been established.  It consists of appropriations or assessments made by member states.  The board may also accept tax deductible gifts, grants and donations from public and private interests willing to contribute to the Fund.  Each state assessment can be likened to a premium with which the state purchases insurance against infestation from other states.

The Compact, through the Insurance Fund it administers may provide financial assistance to address:

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Economically significant new destructive plant pest outbreaks;  

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Plant pest infestations outside the control or means of a single jurisdiction;

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Destructive plant pest outbreaks of concern to other states, if allowed to spread; and

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Infestations of a size that results can be achieved.

Gypsy moth (male)To date, 30 projects, totaling more than $1,096,000 have been funded by the insurance fund.

The Compact provides that any party, or member, state can apply to the Insurance Fund for financial support of specified pest control or eradication activities which it wishes to have undertaken on intensified in one or more other party states or, in limited circumstances, even in non-party states.  When a pest is found in another state that constitutes a threat to valuable agricultural or forest crops or products within the applying state, the Insurance Fund can provide financial support for control or eradication measures.  States party to the Compact are expected to maintain their existing pest control programs at normal levels, aside from any assistance from the Insurance Fund.  This safeguards the soundness of the Fund and makes sure that it will be used to supply the additional thrust necessary to combat outbreaks which would otherwise not be controlled.  


The Insurance Fund is under the control of a Governing Board consisting of an official representative (state compact administrator) of each party state, chosen by that state in accordance with its own laws.  A five-person Executive Committee is authorized to exercise certain responsibilities for the Governing Board when the Board itself does not meet.  This Executive Committee is so selected as to afford a balanced geographic representation.


The Insurance Fund was developed around a one-million dollar base apportioned among all 50 states.  The basis for determining the amount of the funds to be appropriated from each of the party states is as follows: 

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Base allocation – One-tenth ($100,000) of the total base fund was assigned equally to each state ($2,000 per state).

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Crop and forest production allocation – the remainder of the base ($900,000) is proportioned to each state on the basis of the value of its crop and forest products, excluding animal and animal products. 


Data on the value of crop and forest products for the 50 states is based on USDA statistics.  Records are not available in comparable reports for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico , and the Virgin Islands.  Because reliable information for these jurisdictions must come from other sources, the Compact state assessment formula has been applied to production figures for the 50 states only.  In the event the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico , or the Virgin Islands wish to become party to the Compact, the standard formula will apply on the basis of the best production data available from local sources.  The values for the 50 states are updated every five years and the amount apportioned to each state is adjusted accordingly.  


Membership in the Interstate Pest Control Compact

A state may become a member of the Interstate Pest Control Compact and of the Compact Insurance Fund by:

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Legislation - Adopting state legislation similar to the Pest Control Compact:  Model Enabling Act, and

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Appropriation - Appropriating and paying to the Compact Insurance Fund the amount shown for it under State Assessment in the accompanying chart.  This assessment is a one-time charge unless the fund balance is reduced, through use, to a level where it can no longer function according to the provisions of the Compact.  Also, the assessed payment can be spread over as many as six years.


Frequently asked questions

 
[1] Reference:  USDA ARS.  FY 2006 Annual Report, Crop Production and Quarantine.  Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Internet Web Site.
[2] Data from table entitled, “U.S. farm sector production expenses, 2004-2008F."  Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Internet Web Site, Farm Business Economics Briefing Room, February 12, 2008.  
 

 
Last updated: December 30 , 2009