Thursday, December 29, 2016

EPA goes ahead with new rules aimed at protecting farmworkers from pesticides

Rejecting requests from the American Farm Bureau Federation and state agriculture departments, the Environmental Protection Agency says its new rule designed to protect farmworkers from pesticides will take effect Jan. 2, as scheduled.

"The rule includes a host of new requirements to protect the nation's 2 million farmworkers, including annual training (instead of every five years) for the workers themselves; mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides; and new no-entry 'application exclusion zones' of up to 100 feet to protect workers from spray drift," Stephen Davies reports for Agri-Pulse.

A major objection to the rule is that it would allow farmworkers to designate a third party to receive information about pesticide use at a farm. Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and ecological health at Farmworker Justice, "said it's important for workers, who often do not speak English and are afraid that asking for information might threaten their employment, to be able to designate someone else to receive pesticide use information," Davies reports. "Farm groups and their members are worried that anti-pesticide groups could gain access to the records and 'make it seem as if (the farmers) are doing something illegal,' said Paul Schlegel," Farm Bureau's director of environment and energy policy.

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