By Justin Walker
Communications Specialist

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew proposed rules that would lower the minimum age of pesticide handlers.

The rules were being developed to address minimum age provisions in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and would have included application exclusion zone (AEZ) provisions.

The announcement was made in a letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del), a ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, from EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“Although the subject matter associated with these potential changes has been subject to wide-ranging public stakeholder meetings and public comments, EPA will withdraw its OMB submission to propose revisions to these rules and will not make any changes to the designated representative and minimum age provisions,” Wheeler said. “It may consider proposing revisions to the AEZ provision in the WPS rule, but to no other substantive provision in the WPS rule. If such a proposal is issued, it would be subject to a public notice and comment period of no less than 90 days.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), along with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, had previously expressed concern with the provisions and sought to delay the rule in 2016. The designated representative requirement drew the most angst among the groups.

“We are disappointed that EPA will not pursue its efforts to repeal the ‘designated representative’ provisions,” Paul Schlegel, AFBF managing director of Public Policy, said. “The agency had drafted and sent to OMB a rule to repeal that provisions, which AFBF opposes. We had not been seeking changes in the minimum age provisions or the certified applicator rule. On the AEZ, we similarly have had concerns and hope they can be remedied.”

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