Region 7 Pesticides Branch Priorities
Region 7's strategic priorities are: 1) the protection of critical ecosystems; 2) the protection of sensitive populations such as children, older adults, and people with chronic illnesses; and 3) Agriculture. The Pesticides Branch in Region 7 has an integral role in each of these three priorities.
In conjunction with state/tribal partners, the mission and goal of EPA Region 7's Pesticides Branch is to ensure that the production, sales, distribution, or use of pesticides in the region is in compliance with all applicable requirements and is protective of human health and the environment. This encompasses many different aspects, including a proactive role in providing guidance and technical assistance to co-regulators, the regulated community and the public as well as an enforcement role to deter non-compliance. To facilitate coordination with our regulatory partners and the public, the Pesticides Branch maintains a field office in Lincoln, Nebraska. Core Branch functions include:
a. Grants Administration/Technical Assistance - EPA has entered into cooperative performance partnership agreements with the state departments of agriculture in Region 7 to implement vital Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act functions. These include protecting water quality from pesticides, certification and training of pesticide applicators, protection of agricultural workers, endangered species protection, enforcement and state priority activities. These performance partnership agreements include a grant mechanism that provides financial support for states to carry out a federal program, and a work plan that EPA Region 7 and the states negotiate and agree upon. Region 7 has also entered into cooperative agreements or grants with various tribes interested in developing one or more components of a tribal pesticide program or in maintaining a cooperative role with the state and EPA regarding pesticide matters. The Pesticides Branch is responsible for providing technical assistance as well as oversight for these partnership and cooperative agreements.
b. Enforcement - The Pesticides Branch is responsible for ensuring compliance with FIFRA in Region 7 through a balanced approach of providing compliance incentives and assistance as well as taking appropriate enforcement actions, which may include penalties. FIFRA includes provisions for monitoring the distribution and use of pesticides and imposing civil as well as criminal penalties for violations. All states in Region 7 have assumed primary enforcement responsibility. Various types of pesticide enforcement actions are taken by the states and Region 7's Pesticides Branch depending upon the type and seriousness of the violations. National OECA webpage.
c. Water Quality/Pesticide Management Plans - Use of pesticides in agricultural and urban areas in Region 7 has led to pesticides being detected in streams, rivers and ground water. The Pesticides Branch is responsible for identifying high priority water quality issues involving pesticides and facilitating coordination among the respective water and pesticide regulatory programs at EPA, the states and tribes. The goal of this program, pollution prevention and local action by the states and tribes, will contribute to the Agency=s overall strategy of the reducing dietary and environmental exposure to pesticides.
d. Worker Safety
i. The pesticide applicator certification and training program provides pesticide applicators with the knowledge and ability to use pesticides safely and effectively. EPA regulations require that applicators be certified as competent to apply restricted use pesticides in accordance with national standards. The Pesticides Branch is responsible for overseeing and monitoring certification programs conducted by states/tribes to ensure conformance with these national standards.
ii EPA's Worker Protection Standard is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. EPA and our state/tribal co-regulators are continuing to explore ways of "getting the word out" to workers, pesticide handlers, and their employers about the requirements of the Worker Protection Standard. The population that the standard is aimed at protecting is diverse and often highly mobile. Within Region 7, an emphasis has been placed on activities that have the greatest potential for worker exposure to pesticides, such as detassling corn. The Pesticides Branch is responsible for working closely with our state/tribal partners in assessing implementation of the standard in Region 7.
e. Endangered Species - Special care must be taken when pesticides are used in areas that overlap the habitats of endangered or threatened plants and wildlife. Species and their habitats may be harmed by direct exposure to pesticides, by indirect exposure to pesticide runoff or spray drift or by eating prey that has been exposed to pesticides. Three key agencies of the U.S. government -- EPA, the Department of Agriculture, and the Fish and Wildlife Service -- are responsible for coordinating their efforts to inform the general public about the Endangered Species Protection Program and to educate pesticide users in how to protect endangered and threatened species from potentially harmful exposure.
f. Food Quality Protection Act Agricultural Initiative - There is a critical need to assist the agricultural community in transitioning from the older, riskier pesticides likely to be lost under
Food Quality Protection Act Agricultural implementation to newer, safer pesticides. The predominant land use within Region 7 is agriculture. The Pesticides Branch is responsible for working closely with the agricultural community in Region 7, especially minor crop commodity groups, regarding this transition, both through technical assistance and partnerships as well as awarding, monitoring and overseeing various agricultural grant projects.
Link to EPA Region 7 Pesticide Contacts
Lists of regional pesticide contacts at the Region 7 office for information on general pesticide issues, ground water, worker protection standard, integrated pest management, endangered species, etc...
Link to State Contacts
Lists of state contacts at the state lead agencies and the Extension Service for information on general pesticide issues, ground water, worker protection standards, integrated pest management, endangered species, certification and training, or to inquire about a specific pesticide problem. Questions concerning specific state issues such as the requirements for sale and use of pesticides within a particular state should be directed to the state lead agency for pesticide control.