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EPA proposes extensive revisions to agricultural worker protection standards

—By Amy Cornell
Public Policy Team

EPA's Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (or WPS) is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

The a new proposed rule extensively revises the existing WPS in several areas, including training, notification, hazard communication, minimum age, and personal protective equipment. The current comment deadline for comments is June 17, 2014. AFBF has requested a 90-day extension of the comment deadline.

The EPA issued the proposed rulemaking at one of the busiest times of year for farmers. Farm Bureau members who would be most affected by the proposed changes are now cultivating soil and planting crops.

AFBF pointed out that the existing WPS provisions have been in place for approximately 20 years and the issue surrounding the revisions has been ongoing for at least a decade. A 90-day extension of the comment period, given the context of the dialogue that has surrounded this topic, is a reasonable request.

The proposed changes in the rule are extensive and will impact many of Indiana Farm Bureau members directly. Examples of such proposals include:

  • Altering the family farm exemption.
  • Increasing legal obligation related to training of workers, content of training materials and timing of training.
  • Imposing stricter requirements related to personal protective equipment and availability of decontamination supplies.
  • Imposing buffer zones related to application of pesticides that could reduce available acreage for crop production.

For more information contact me at acornell@infb.org or Kyle Cline at kcline@infb.org.

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