Farmer Paul's Row - Staying Compliant - Paul Betz, High Ledge Farm, Woodbury, VT & High Mowing Organic Seeds Sales Associate
have been farming for ten years now. While we are certified organic, we
do spray some allowable pesticides and fungicides. I have always kept a
log for my certification that includes the product, concentration
amount and location of the application. Imagine my surprise when one day
an inspector showed up on my farm and started asking questions about
where I store my pesticides and where I post this information. What
about my WPS (Worker Protection Standard) certification?
It turned out that I had been out of compliance for years.
In August of 1992, the EPA revised the WPS to address the safety needs
of employees working on farms. The focus is on exposure to pesticides,
and having access to information around their use and effects. These
standards apply whether you are organic, natural grown or conventional.
Any use of a product with an Ag Use Requirement label requires WPS
For me, compliance wasnít difficult. Annie Macmillan, VT
Agency of Agriculture Agrichemical Toxicologist, facilitated the
training. She came to a nearby farm, and I watched a DVD with a group of
growers. At the end of the session, we were certified as handlers to
mix and apply the chemicals we use on the farm. I was also checked out
to train my employees in what precautions needed to be taken when
working in (weeding, harvesting, watering) an area that had been
sprayed. Pretty much what you would expect, but itís always good for me
to hear the basics again every once in a while.
Now I have a Central Location where I post information,
including the date and Restricted Entry Interval (REI) for each
pesticide that applied. I have the directions to the nearest hospital
posted as well, in case of emergency. Each worker on the farm watches
the DVD with me, and I make sure that everything is understood.
Here in Vermont, access to training was really easy; it
even came to us. Each state has its own program, so it will be up to you
to find a way to get your training. Hereís the contact info for all the
State Pesticide Regulatory Agencies
. They are usually the branch that handles the training. When you call, ask to speak to the WPS coordinator.
This certification was an easy one for me to do, and itís a
good one too. I would also rather be on the right side of this one the
next time an inspector shows up at my farm.