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Proposed or New Rules, Policies, and Guidance Affecting Agriculture

Rules, Policies, and Guidance of Interest to the Agricultural Community:

Below are rules, policies, and documents that EPA is proposing and has opened for public comment; for which the comment period has closed; or that have been published as final. Comments are solicited from the public before EPA issues final versions.

Initiated Rulemaking

  • Certification and Training (C&T, or Certification of Pesticide Applicators) Rule EPA has initiated a process to revise the minimum age requirements in the C&T rule. EPA expects to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input on proposed revisions to the rule by the end of FY2018. The implementation dates in the January 4, 2017, final rule, (1) for certifying authorities to submit revised certification plans and (2) for EPA to act on those plans remain in effect; EPA has no plans to change those implementation dates. EPA has published a Federal Register Notice that it has initiated this rulemaking process to revise the minimum age requirements. 
  • Pesticides; Agricultural Worker Protection Standard EPA has initiated a process to revise certain requirements in the WPS.  By the end of FY2018, EPA expects to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input on proposed revisions to the WPS requirements for minimum ages, designated representatives, and application exclusion zones. The compliance dates in the revised WPS published on November 2, 2015, remain in effect; the Agency does not intend to extend them. EPA has published a Federal Register Notice that it has initiated this rulemaking process to revise certain requirements in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.

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Public Comment Period Open

  • Amendment to Emergency Release Notification Regulations on Reporting Exemption for Air Emissions from Animal Waste at Farms; Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) is proposing to amend the release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to add the reporting exemption for air emissions from animal waste at farms provided in section l03(e) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). ln addition, EPA is proposing to add definitions of "farm" and "animal waste" to the EPCRA regulations to delineate the scope of this reporting exemption. This proposed rule maintains consistency between the emergency release notification requirements ofEPCRA and CERCLA in accordance with the statutory text, framework and legislative history of EPCRA, and is consistent with the Agency's prior regulatory actions.

Public Comment Period Closed

  • Definition of Waters of the United States-Recodification of Preexisting Rule (Comment Period Closed August 13, 2018) - The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Army (the agencies) have issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the July 2017 proposed action to repeal the 2015 definition of "waters of the United States" (also known as Step One). The agencies are issuing a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 Rule in its entirety. The notice also reiterates that the agencies are proposing to recodify the pre-2015 regulations - a longstanding regulatory framework that is currently being administered by the agencies - to keep them in place and implemented consistent with Supreme Court precedent while the agencies finalize a new definition of "waters of the United States."
  • Pesticides: Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly (Comment Period Closed July 24, 2015) - EPA is announcing the availability of a document for public review and comment that describes the Agency's management approach for understanding and identifying protections for the monarch butterfly. This document is the start of an approach for monarch butterfly protection and weed management which will depend upon (i) input from a diverse group of stakeholders to identify and integrate information with respect to influences on the population dynamics of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant; and, (ii) cooperation and collaboration from these diverse stakeholders to identify activities that will balance weed management needs across varied landscapes with conservation of the milkweed plant. EPA is soliciting public comment on which potential action or a combination of actions would be the most effective in reducing the impacts of herbicides on the monarch butterfly.

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Final Rule Published

  • Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators (Final Rule published 01/04/2017; Effective date delayed until May 22, 2018) EPA is developing a final rule to revise the federal regulations governing the certified pesticide applicator program (40 CFR part 171). In August 2015, EPA proposed revisions based on years of extensive stakeholder engagement and public meetings, to ensure that they adequately protect applicators, the public, and the environment from potential harm due to exposure to restricted use pesticides (RUPs). This action is intended to improve the training and awareness of certified applicators of RUPs and to increase protection for noncertified applicators of RUPs operating under the direct supervision of a certified applicator through enhanced pesticide safety training and standards for supervision of noncertified applicators.
  • Pesticides; Agricultural Worker Protection Standard Revisions (Final Rule published November 2, 2015; Effective January 1, 2016) - EPA is finalizing updates and revisions to the existing worker protection regulation for pesticides. This final rule will enhance the protections provided to agricultural workers, pesticide handlers, and other persons under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) by strengthening elements of the existing regulation, such as training, notification, pesticide safety and hazard communication information, use of personal protective equipment, and the providing of supplies for routine washing and emergency decontamination. EPA expects this final rule to prevent unreasonable adverse effects from exposure to pesticides among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers, vulnerable groups (such as minority and low-income populations, child farmworkers, and farmworker families) and other persons who may be on or near agricultural establishments, and to mitigate exposures that do occur. In order to reduce compliance burdens for family-owned farms, in the final rule EPA has expanded the existing definition of “immediate family” and continued the existing exemption from many provisions of the WPS for owners and members of their immediate families.
  • NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule (Final Rule published October 22, 2015; Effective December 21, 2015) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing this final regulation that requires the electronic reporting and sharing of Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program information instead of the current paper-based reporting of this information. This action will save time and resources for permittees, states, tribes, territories, and the U.S. Government while increasing data accuracy, improving compliance, and supporting EPA's goal of providing better protection of the nation's waters. By modernizing this Clean Water Act reporting program, permittees and regulators will use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the NPDES permit program.
  • Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" (Final Rule published June 29, 2015) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are publishing a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act), in light of the statute, science, Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC), and Rapanos v. United States (Rapanos), and the agencies' experience and technical expertise. This final rule reflects consideration of the extensive public comments received on the proposed rule. The rule will ensure protection for the nation's public health and aquatic resources, and increase CWA program predictability and consistency by clarifying the scope of “waters of the United States” protected under the Act.

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