The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday stopped new pesticide regulations for farmers, meant to be put into effect this year by the Obama administration.
"In order to achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity, we must give the regulated community, which includes farmers and ranchers, adequate time to come into compliance with regulations," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "Extending the timeline for implementation of this rule will enable EPA to consult with states, assist with education, training and guidance, and prevent unnecessary burdens from overshadowing the rule's intended benefits."
The EPA said it is delaying implementation for a full year after states said their farmers and ranchers were not ready to begin following the revised final rule on Certification and Training of Pesticide Applicators. The rule updates strict nationwide guidelines on who is allowed and not allowed to handle toxic chemicals used to control pests. It would require states to establish more rigorous verification and permitting requirements, presenting new hurdles for farmers and ranchers for controlling pests as they enter the growing season.
The decision to delay the rule comes one month after Pruitt met with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to discuss delaying the regulation. The Republican governor joined Pruitt Thursday in announcing the one-year delay.Greitens said in a joint statement that Pruitt "proved today that the old way of doing business at the EPA is over and done with." The governor said he presented the agency "with a problem, and they took quick action to begin fixing it."
Missouri farmers are the leading source of jobs and revenue in the state's economy. The state had argued that the rule would add a layer of new regulations that would drive up costs at a time when farmers are struggling to recover from low crop prices.
"It's time for government to get out of the way and let our farmers farm," the governor said. "Missouri farmers have waited a long time for common-sense government, and now it's on its way. I'm grateful for this new leadership, and look forward to continuing to work with this administration to curb regulations that are killing jobs and hurting our farmers."
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the trade group that represents the states' farming regulators, said it supports the rule that was issued in January, but growing economic challenges for states makes it the wrong time to add new regulations.
"While we are supportive of the improved final rule released in January, states are facing a range of ongoing logistical, resource and capacity challenges," said Barbara Glenn, the group's CEO, in the joint statement with Pruitt and the governor.
"These challenges are amplified as they also implement other recent EPA requirements, such as the Worker Protection Standard," she said. "Extending the certification timeline will help alleviate some of those challenges by allowing states to work with our EPA partners to ensure adequate training resources and compliance assistance activities."