Temporary Stay of EPA Rule Rolls Back Farmer Pesticide Protections
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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has voted to temporarily pause the final rule for farmer pesticide protections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

This rule, which would revise the pesticide application exclusion zone requirement in the EPA’s agricultural worker protection standard, will be on pause until at least Aug. 22. 

The application exclusion zone is the area surrounding where the pesticide is applied “that must be free of all persons, other than appropriately trained and equipped handlers, during pesticide applications.”

About the final pesticide rule


The new rule would do the following to update the current standard

  • Make exclusion requirements applicable and enforceable only within farm owners’ property, amending current provisions that extend the boundary to areas outside a farm in which workers and others may be exposed to pesticide processes.
  • Exempt farm owners’ immediate family members from the requirement.
  • Establish clarifying language stating that pesticide applications suspended as a result of individuals entering an exclusion zone may be resumed after the individuals have left the area.
  • Simplify criteria for determining whether pesticide applications are subject to a 25- or 100-foot exclusion zone.

Events leading up to the stay


Initially, the state of New York filed a lawsuit against the EPA, which pushed back on the more relaxed exclusion zone limits.

And, the district court granted an initial stay of the rule on Dec. 28, 2020 — exactly one day before the final rule was to have taken effect. The second stay was announced in the May 16 Federal Register after the court issued the decision on Feb. 15 to continue to halt the rule. 

Where does the pesticide rule go from here? 


The EPA anticipates issuing a proposal with an update to the rule that would address the application exclusion zone in the coming months.

The agency says it intends to thoroughly review the 2020 rule to determine if it is consistent with the policies established in Executive Order 13990, which follows scientific means to advance public health and the environment. 

Any final rule resulting from this process may end up modifying the standard for the 2020 rule, the overall agricultural worker protection standard, or possibly even both.



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