Ag News

EPA proposes rule to update pesticide application exclusion zone

On Oct. 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) pesticide regulation to improve the long-term success of the agency’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements. The targeted updates would improve enforceability for state regulators and reduce regulatory burdens for farmers. It would also maintain public health protections for farm workers and other individuals near agricultural establishments that could be exposed to agricultural pesticide applications. The proposed updates are consistent with the newly enacted 2019 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA).

 “Every effort to make the rule more sensible and practical for farmers while safeguarding workers is important,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “EPA’s step to assure that only those areas under a farmer’s control are enforceable is a common-sense clarification, among others designed to reflect on-the-ground farming practices.”

The EPA continues to support the AEZ requirement. The agency is holding a 90-day public comment period and is seeking input on select updates that were publicly suggested to EPA by both state pesticide agencies responsible for enforcing the provision and agricultural stakeholders since the AEZ requirement was adopted in 2015.

The proposed changes to the rule would make it applicable and enforceable only on a farm owner’s property, where a farm owner can lawfully exercise control over employees and bystanders who could fall within the AEZ.

The changes would exempt immediate family members of farm owners from all aspects of the AEZ requirement and add clarifying language that pesticide applications suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.

The changes would also simplify the criteria for deciding whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25-foot or 100-foot AEZ.

EPA will be accepting public comments on the proposed updates for 90 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

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