Feds fry farmers

Stricter regulations on fumigants tick off the agricultural sector

Agriculture practices around the nation will be safer for farm workers and rural residents thanks to new regulations requiring more stringent guidelines for several common pesticides.

Announced recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the rules will require generous buffer zones around regions treated with methyl bromide, metam sodium, metam potassium, dazomet and chloropicrin. The distance of the zones ranges from 25 feet to half a mile.

Paul Schlegel, the American Farm Bureau’s director of public policy, called the decision politically motivated. “We don’t think there should be buffer zones if they’re not related to a clear risk,” he told The Associated Press.

Environmentalists, who had asked for a ban on the fumigant, called the decision a good start. Nearly a decade ago, Metam sodium made hundreds of people violently ill when a toxin-filled cloud hit a central California farming town.