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Agriculture: Proposed or New Rules, Policies, and Guidance

Rules, Policies, and Guidance of Interest to the Agricultural Community:

Below are rules, policies, and documents that EPA is proposing and has opened for public comment; for which the comment period has closed; or that have been published as final. Comments are solicited from the public before EPA issues final versions.

Initiated Rulemaking

  • Certification and Training (C&T, or Certification of Pesticide Applicators) Rule EPA has initiated a process to revise the minimum age requirements in the C&T rule. EPA expects to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input on proposed revisions to the rule by the end of FY2018. The implementation dates in the January 4, 2017, final rule, (1) for certifying authorities to submit revised certification plans and (2) for EPA to act on those plans remain in effect; EPA has no plans to change those implementation dates. EPA has published a Federal Register Notice that it has initiated this rulemaking process to revise the minimum age requirements. 
  • Pesticides; Agricultural Worker Protection Standard EPA has initiated a process to revise certain requirements in the WPS.  By the end of FY2018, EPA expects to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input on proposed revisions to the WPS requirements for minimum ages, designated representatives, and application exclusion zones. The compliance dates in the revised WPS published on November 2, 2015, remain in effect; the Agency does not intend to extend them. EPA has published a Federal Register Notice that it has initiated this rulemaking process to revise certain requirements in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.

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Public Comment Period Open

  • Pre-Publication Version of Proposed Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" The Former EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, along with Mr. Douglas Lamont, senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, signed the following proposed rule on 06/27/2017, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register (FR). While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the rule, it is not the official version of the rule for purposes of public comment. Please refer to the official version in a forthcoming FR publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office's FDsys website and on in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203. Once the official version of this document is published in the FR, this version will be removed from the Internet and replaced with a link to the official version.

Public Comment Period Closed

  • Pesticides: Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly (Comment Period Closed July 24, 2015) - EPA is announcing the availability of a document for public review and comment that describes the Agency's management approach for understanding and identifying protections for the monarch butterfly. This document is the start of an approach for monarch butterfly protection and weed management which will depend upon (i) input from a diverse group of stakeholders to identify and integrate information with respect to influences on the population dynamics of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant; and, (ii) cooperation and collaboration from these diverse stakeholders to identify activities that will balance weed management needs across varied landscapes with conservation of the milkweed plant. EPA is soliciting public comment on which potential action or a combination of actions would be the most effective in reducing the impacts of herbicides on the monarch butterfly.

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Final Rule Published

  • Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators (Final Rule published 01/04/2017; Effective date delayed until May 22, 2018) EPA is developing a final rule to revise the federal regulations governing the certified pesticide applicator program (40 CFR part 171). In August 2015, EPA proposed revisions based on years of extensive stakeholder engagement and public meetings, to ensure that they adequately protect applicators, the public, and the environment from potential harm due to exposure to restricted use pesticides (RUPs). This action is intended to improve the training and awareness of certified applicators of RUPs and to increase protection for noncertified applicators of RUPs operating under the direct supervision of a certified applicator through enhanced pesticide safety training and standards for supervision of noncertified applicators.
  • Pesticides; Agricultural Worker Protection Standard Revisions (Final Rule published November 2, 2015; Effective January 1, 2016) - EPA is finalizing updates and revisions to the existing worker protection regulation for pesticides. This final rule will enhance the protections provided to agricultural workers, pesticide handlers, and other persons under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) by strengthening elements of the existing regulation, such as training, notification, pesticide safety and hazard communication information, use of personal protective equipment, and the providing of supplies for routine washing and emergency decontamination. EPA expects this final rule to prevent unreasonable adverse effects from exposure to pesticides among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers, vulnerable groups (such as minority and low-income populations, child farmworkers, and farmworker families) and other persons who may be on or near agricultural establishments, and to mitigate exposures that do occur. In order to reduce compliance burdens for family-owned farms, in the final rule EPA has expanded the existing definition of “immediate family” and continued the existing exemption from many provisions of the WPS for owners and members of their immediate families.
  • NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule (Final Rule published October 22, 2015; Effective December 21, 2015) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing this final regulation that requires the electronic reporting and sharing of Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program information instead of the current paper-based reporting of this information. This action will save time and resources for permittees, states, tribes, territories, and the U.S. Government while increasing data accuracy, improving compliance, and supporting EPA's goal of providing better protection of the nation's waters. By modernizing this Clean Water Act reporting program, permittees and regulators will use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the NPDES permit program.
  • Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" (Final Rule published June 29, 2015) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are publishing a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act), in light of the statute, science, Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC), and Rapanos v. United States (Rapanos), and the agencies' experience and technical expertise. This final rule reflects consideration of the extensive public comments received on the proposed rule. The rule will ensure protection for the nation's public health and aquatic resources, and increase CWA program predictability and consistency by clarifying the scope of “waters of the United States” protected under the Act.

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