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Do You Know Who Grows Your Food?

2014 May 14
Jim Jones

May 14, 2014
2:30 pm EDT


Two million farmworkers help grow, tend and harvest the food that we put on our tables every day.  They are the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers whose hard work and long days enable us to have healthy, plentiful food.  They are often exposed to hazards from pesticide exposures and need the same workplace protection that other industry workers have had for decades.

It’s been 20 years since the rules providing protections to farmworkers were updated.  In February of this year, the agency proposed for public comment on a revised Worker Protection Standard.  The proposal is the result of numerous discussions across the country with farm workers, farm owners, states and others on what is working, what is not, and what needs to be improved when it comes to the current rule.

Today, we are extending the public comment period until August 18 in response to requests from growers, industry, states and farmworker advocates.  We want to ensure that a diverse set of stakeholders have an opportunity to make their voices heard so that we have a protective and workable rule for years to come.

The opportunity to revise the rule may not come again for some time, so we are committed to getting it right.  Since February we have had mass e-mailings, numerous conference calls, webinars, and meetings with farm workers, their advocates, state enforcement regulators, growers, and others to explain the revisions and get input.  Between now and the end of the comment period we will continue this expansive communication effort.

Updating the 20-year old regulation to provide more protections to farmworkers from pesticide exposure is a priority for EPA.  The proposed revisions include mandatory pesticide safety training every year versus every five years and the addition of a “no entry” buffer areas of 25-100 feet around fields where pesticides are being applied. It includes a first-time minimum age requirement for handling pesticides, mandatory posting of warning signs around treated areas for the more hazardous pesticides, mandatory record keeping for two years, and mandates that information regarding pesticide hazards and their applications be available to farm workers and their advocates. The proposed rule continues the exemptions for family members working on family farms.

The comment period ends August 18. We encourage you to comment on the proposal in English or in Spanish.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. SESSI AKOJENU permalink
    May 14, 2014


  2. Peter R. Mares permalink
    June 4, 2014

    Please make the pesticide use regulations more updated to reflect real use of hazardous and end result of long term use and benefits. I live in a farming environment and the chemicals clouds. Cancer is ramped in NY and in the nation. Asthma and other breathing issues are killing residents. Pesticide for profit spraying is not worth one more death. I live next to a stream of water that at one time sustained life. Now all it does is flow some liquid. I see and hear the farms around my home sparing at all hours of the day or night. The best thing I can do is close my windows and wait for the chemical cloud to disapear. Is the fear and effect of the chemicals residual components neutralized in a few hours days or years? When is it for sure a guarantee safe time for my family to exit our home and enjoy a nice summer day in NY. Please revise the rules. One rule that has no strength is the 30 day time line policy for inspection and reporting. It must be extended to several years and not the 30 day time limit. More research on the actual day to day use and surprise visit to chemical users in farms is a start. Conservation is more important than company profits or pretty fruits and vegetables.

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    June 12, 2014

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    November 10, 2014

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