The head of the EPA touts regulation reforms while in Wayne County.
Thursday, at Overman Farms just south of Goldsboro, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the agency has finalized improvements to requirements for the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ)—the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. EPA’s targeted changes improve the enforceability and workability of the AEZ requirements, decrease regulatory burdens for farmers, and maintain critical worker protections. The revisions are consistent with the 2018 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA). The AEZ requirements are part of EPA’s agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations.
Lorenda Overman explained the rule change would help farming operations like hers by saving her time. Overman says, under the current rules, she would have to take the time to go and notify every property owner next to a field that was about to be treated with a chemical. That process, along with all the other regulations, cost farmers like Overman time and money that could otherwise be spent on farming.
“Since day one, the Trump Administration has been committed to protecting the health of all our citizens,” said EPA Administrator Wheeler. “The changes to the AEZ requirements make it easier to ensure people near our nation’s farms are protected, while simultaneously enhancing the workability of these provisions for farm owners and protecting the environment.”
This final action balances the input EPA received from a wide range of stakeholders during the proposed action’s 90-day comment period. EPA has clarified and simplified the AEZ requirements based in part on input from state pesticide regulatory agencies and agricultural stakeholders after the adoption of the 2015 WPS rule. Consistent with PRIA, EPA is only implementing changes related to the AEZ requirements in the WPS. These targeted changes include:
- AEZ requirements only apply within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were difficult for state regulators to enforce.Immediate family members of farm owners are now exempted from all aspects of the AEZ requirements. Farm owners and their immediate family are now able to shelter in place inside closed buildings, giving farm owners and immediate family members flexibility to decide whether to stay on-site during pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.
- New clarifying language has been added so that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
- Simplified criteria to determine whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.
No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler/applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.
To read the rule in full, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/worker-protection-standard-application-exclusion-zone.