New Fumigant Rules For Florida Growers

EPA is imposing greater restrictions for soil fumigant pesticide usage. The safety measures will reduce fumigant exposures to bystanders — people who live, work, attend school, or spend time near agricultural fields that are fumigated — and increase overall safety of fumigant use by requiring greater planning and compliance. For details on the changes, go to www.epa.gov and search for “soil fumigants.”

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EPA took extensive public comments on the safety measures, announced initially in July 2008, to refine the measures as needed and develop an implementation strategy. This included many public meetings and visits with state agencies and agricultural, farm worker, and public health constituents. Adjustments to the 2008 proposal have been made based upon new scientific data and improved information on certain technological capabilities.

Modifications Help

“It appears that the modifications address many of our greatest concerns to some extent,” said Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. “The original re-registration eligibility decisions were set at such an extreme level that any concessions would provide critical relief from an impossible burden on growers. The agency has obviously considered our appeals and applied recently intensified scientific studies to moderate the original proposal. We welcome this relief and will continue to contribute valid data to ensure both grower needs and public safety concerns are adequately sustained going forward.”

Preparing For Change

EPA indicates it will continue to work with state agencies, growers, farm workers, and public health officials to achieve the new protections while minimizing costs and burdens on growers. The measures will be implemented starting in the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons.

The soil fumigants methyl bromide, chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium, metam potassium, and iodomethane are all subject to the new requirements.