EPA to Deny Farm Groups’ Bid to Postpone Workers Rules12/30/2016
The Environmental Protection Agency will deny a petition by two large agriculture organizations to push back implementation of a new farmworker safety standard, less than two weeks before the regulation is set to take effect. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on Dec. 21 sent a petition to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to delay the Worker Protection Standard (RIN:2070-AJ22) start date by one year, from Jan. 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018, reports Bloomberg News.
The delay would give members “adequate time to prepare for compliance with the rule and to avoid the unfair and unredressable harm to farmers and ranchers,” the groups said in a news release.
EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail that the agency would go ahead with the rule as planned in January 2017.
The Worker Protection Standard was finalized last year, marking the first update of the regulations in more than two decades. The new rule bans children under 18 from applying pesticides and tightens training requirements for working with and around pesticides, with exemptions for a farmer’s family members.
The farm organizations are concerned about a controversial provision that requires farmers to hand over pesticide information to third parties at a worker’s request.
They assert that the EPA broke the law by not sending Congress the final version of the standards. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (Pub. L. No. 61-152) requires the EPA to provide the House and Senate agriculture committees “a copy of the final form of regulations” at the same time the final rules are provided to the secretary of agriculture.
The information-sharing clause allows farmworkers to choose their representatives and does not limit how the representatives use the information provided. Farmers must hand over pesticide use information within 15 working days under the provision.