Louisiana farmers at the Northeast Louisiana Row Crop Forum heard from LSU AgCenter experts who told them about recent developments as they prepare for the upcoming growing season. Nearly 50 farmers attended the event.
Carol Pinnell-Alison, LSU AgCenter Extension agent in Franklin Parish, says all agricultural producers who handle pesticides will have to follow new, more stringent guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new Worker Protection Standard is in effect now.
“It’s been 20 years since there have been any changes in this,” she says. “One of the biggest changes is you will have to train your employees on pesticide handling every year, not every three years.”
Pinnell-Alison says there is no grace period for the pesticide training, and producers have to keep training records for two years. Employees also must be at least 18 years old to mix, load or apply any pesticide or to enter a sprayed area before the re-entry interval has expired.
New EPA requirements include new pesticide application posting along with providing pesticide safety data sheets. Other changes include requirements for personal protection equipment and the amount of water and eye wash material available for employees for cleanup from pesticide exposure. More detailed information on the new standards can be found at www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps.
AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown says neonicotinoid insecticides are being scrutinized by environmentalists and the EPA because of concerns that they may be a threat to pollinators, such as honeybees. But, he says research is not supporting fears that the neonicotinoids are harmful to bees.
The pesticide Transform, used against sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum, was removed from the market in November after a challenge in court, Brown says. Environmental groups complained that the EPA had not required more thorough testing of the product, and it has been linked to bee mortality. Brown says the EPA has encouraged states to develop pollinator protection plans.
The measures in the Louisiana plan include identifying hives near crops with black and yellow flags visible to aerial applicators, assigning GPS coordinates to hive locations, marking hives with identification tags and applying chemicals at times that are not potentially harmful to bees.
Brown also urged farmers against applying pyrethroids without finding enough insects to justify spraying.
Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter, contributed this article.