EPA indicates it will delay worker protection rule changes

Farmers who must meet revised provisions of the EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standard may be facing a relaxed deadline for compliance.

epaEarlier this year, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture petitioned the EPA for a delay in implementation of the WPS that took effect Jan. 2. In May the EPA agreed to initiate efforts to extend implementation of all revised WPS provisions until necessary guidance and training have been completed.

Currently, “the WPS remains in force as it was published in 2015,” noted Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, “and producers are still required to meet their legal obligations under the rule. While the EPA has indicated it will delay implementation; that delay is subject to a formal process that won’t be finalized overnight. When it is finalized, the EPA will publish details.”

NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn said protecting the health and safety of agricultural workers “is a fundamental priority for NASDA members. While states have been working diligently with EPA to implement the agency’s 2015 rule, the lack of needed education and training materials and other significant challenges with the rule have made the original implementation timeline unrealistic.

“We appreciate EPA delaying implementation until necessary guidance and training have been completed, and we look forward to working with the agency to address our other concerns with the 2015 rule,” she said. “EPA, state regulatory agencies, agricultural employers, trainers, farmers and workers all have a shared responsibility to protect and promote worker safety.”

In 43 states and Puerto Rico, the state department of agriculture is a co-regulator and responsible for administering, implementing and enforcing the production, labeling, distribution, sale, use and disposal of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and other applicable laws and regulations.

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