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Agriculture Department Proposes New Rule On Pesticide Application In Idaho

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ROGER SMITH / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
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The rules that companies must follow when spraying pesticides in Idaho underwent review this summer. Following a couple public comment periods, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture proposed changes to the rules last week, which will be presented to the legislature in January.

The Idaho Agricultural Aviation Association, which represents crop dusters, or businesses that provide pesticides or chemigation for farmers, is pleased with the changes. 

“It’s a big step in the right direction," said David Lehman, a lobbyist for the IAAA. The organization is particularly supportive of ISDA’s decision to off-load regulatory powers regarding things like low-flying and flight path restrictions to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Idaho Conservation League, which has been engaged in conversations surrounding pesticide application, will seek to better understand the FAA oversight process “to ensure that public health is protected for communities, water quality supplies and farmworkers alike,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, the non-profit’s government relationships director.

In 2019, Parma farmworkers were hospitalized after allegedly being exposed to pesticides sprayed by a crop-duster, the Idaho Statesman reported

“What we have seen through this process is a general weakening or reduction in oversight from the state," Oppenheimer said.

To him, one positive development to come out of this summer’s negotiations, is language that prohibits pesticide application when wind speeds are above 10 miles per hour, unless the pesticide’s label instructs otherwise.

In the latest round of revisions, the state also labeled schools and hospitals as hazard areas for pesticide application. But Christina Stucker-Gassi with the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, an advocacy organization, said it doesn’t go far enough. 

Only a few chemicals are listed in this section, and not "pesticides that are known to cause neurological, developmental issues,” Stucker-Gassi said.

Public comments on the latest proposed rule are due to ISDA by October 7, after which the department will likely propose the rule that it’ll present to the legislature.

 
 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen 

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