The nation’s top EPA official headed out west this week to talk about farm worker safety, and new regulations that took some heat from ag groups.
Sabrina Hill reports.
To hear McCarthy’s comments, listen to the audio report above.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visited a farm and nursery in Stockton, California, Tuesday, to bring attention to the EPA’s updated regulations for farm workers. She was joined by United Farm Workers of America president, Arturo Rodriguez on the tour, where she also spoke to farm workers and the media. EPA’s final rule was announced back in September. McCarthy says it provides stronger protections for the nation’s two million agricultural workers.
The rule increases requirements for training, notification, pesticide safety and hazard communications. It also requires additional use of personal protective equipment and the availability of supplies for routine washing and emergency decontamination. McCarthy says there have been a lot of changes since the last time the rules were updated.
Some agricultural groups have come out against the new regulations. Farm Bureau has criticized the new rules, saying the EPA is “piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues.”
Other agricultural groups also criticized the rules. The Agricultural Retailers Association says justification for revision of the rules is based on unfounded assumptions and deliberately misleading cost analysis. It also points out there are already many protections in place, and that the new EPA rules do not align with the strict rules already in place in many states. In a statement, the association says the EPA has admitted it cannot quantify the public safety benefits of the new rule, nor can it conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the changes. But McCarthy says she hasn’t heard much against the regulations.
McCarthy will also be visiting farms in other states around the nation to highlight the updated regulations.