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September 2, 2014

EPA Fails to Show Benefit of Worker Protection Standards Proposal

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

A recent proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency would revise Worker Protection Standards regulations. Micheal Clements has more.
ClementsThe comment period ended last month for the EPA’s proposal. American Farm Bureau’s Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy, says the EPA failed to prove any benefit from the proposed revisions to the already heavily regulated use of pesticides.
SchlegelIf they can’t even say here’s why you need to do this, we think that shows the rule may be working pretty well as it is. We’re not trying to cut corners at all. We just want to make sure that if there are obligations that are imposed on farmers to protect workers that clearly it shows a demonstrated ability to protect a worker and it’s not unnecessarily burdensome to a farmer.
ClementsSchlegel has talked with state Farm Bureaus to gather their concerns on the proposal. One of the concerns with the proposal is that it would allow what the EPA is calling authorized representatives to show up at your farm and look at your records.
SchlegelAn authorized representative could present themselves at a farmer’s gate and say one of your workers has authorized me to get on his behalf the records you are required to keep, and he doesn’t have to prove that, it can be an oral designation. That would be one that everybody I think is very strongly objected too.
ClementsEPA officials have informally said they are looking to finish the proposal sometime next year. Schlegel says nearly all of the nation’s commodity groups are opposed to the proposal.
SchlegelWe take second place to nobody on how we want to care for our workers and we don’t want to put anybody at risk unnecessarily, but time after time in the proposal they say they cannot identify a benefit by increasing these restrictions. If you’ve got a regulation in place for 20 years and you want to change it, you clearly ought to have a track record to say here’s where it’s deficient, but they haven’t done that.
ClementsMicheal Clements, Washington.

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