NASDA comments on EPA’s pesticide rule changes

EPA’s revisions to pesticide Application Exclusion Zone requirements welcomed by state ag departments.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

January 28, 2020

2 Min Read
NASDA comments on EPA’s pesticide rule changes

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approving its revisions to pesticide Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements. NASDA’s comments outlined the importance of clear regulations, flexibility for farm operators and assured safety for all farm workers.

“NASDA is confident that the safety of farmers and farm workers will not be compromised by any of these changes,” NASDA chief executive officer Dr. Barb Glenn said in the comments. The proposed revisions will also clarify AEZ requirements and changes, creating more consistency for pesticide operators.

Noting that NASDA represents the lead state agencies for implementing agricultural regulations, Glenn encouraged EPA to work closely with NASDA members on incorporating the AEZ revisions.

The proposed revisions would limit the AEZ to within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment. NASDA supports the change and believes that the revised proposal will create more consistency.

NASDA's comments said it is important to highlight that pesticide handlers are already complying with multiple safety measurements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), such as the “do not contact” requirement, which implements restrictions during applications by ensuring that the pesticides applied do not contact workers or other people. 

Related:EPA updates pesticide application rule

“Protecting agricultural workers from potential adverse effects of pesticides is an important function of state departments of agriculture, which are the primary co-regulators of FIFRA with EPA. NASDA is supportive of the EPA’s WPS measures, but as this regulatory framework evolves, we need to ensure that the new provisions being included are not duplicative, unnecessary or confusing,” the comments noted.

The 2015 WPS rule was silent on if and when a handler could resume an application after it has been suspended because workers or other people were present in the AEZ. This was probably because EPA never envisioned that AEZ requirements could lead to an application being potentially suspended permanently. The clarification being proposed by EPA to explicitly state when applications can be resumed are welcomed. EPA is proposing revise the WPS to clarify that handlers may resume a suspended application when no workers or other people remain in an AEZ within the boundaries of the establishment.

“Even though this clarification may seem common sense, when dealing with pesticide safety rules, clarity is key,” NASDA said.

As Glenn stated after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s announcement of the new provisions in October 2019, NASDA members take seriously the responsibility to protect the nation’s agricultural workforce and the viability of farms and ranches.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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