Thursday, December 15, 2016

Chairman Conaway Announces New Staff Hire

Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) announced that Jennifer Tiller will join the committee as Professional Staff for nutrition and welfare issues. Tiller, a native of Syracuse, New York, has been working in Washington, D.C. since 2012 as the Director of America Works of Washington, D.C., where her attention was devoted to program operations, public policy, and contract and grant acquisition. Prior to that, Tiller worked in a similar capacity for America Works of Albany, Inc. (New York). Tiller holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in European History from the University at Albany, SUNY, a Master of Public Administration from Marist College, and a Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University. “The House Agriculture Committee devoted an immense amount of time and effort this past Congress to fully examine the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well has how nutrition plays an integral role in the lives of all Americans. Jennifer’s knowledge and expertise in this area will be a tremendous asset to us as we move towards reauthorizing SNAP and making sure the program helps participants rise out of poverty and into a better future. I look forward to having her as part of our team,” said Chairman Conaway.

FARMWORKER JUSTICE’S STATEMENT ON EPA’S CERTIFICATION OF PESTICIDE APPLICATORS RULE

WASHINGTON,DC (December 15, 2016)-- Farmworker Justice is pleased that the EPA has published important changes to regulations that govern the certification, training and supervision of individuals who apply high-risk pesticides. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule (40 CFR 171), which has not been updated in nearly 40 years, provides national competency standards for those who may purchase and apply ‘restricted use pesticides’ (RUPs). A pesticide is classified as restricted if it poses heightened risk to people or the environment. The new rule imposes stricter standards to protect human health and the environment and reduce risk to those applying pesticides. Currently there is wide variance among state certification and training programs for pesticide applicators, and requirements for supervision of non-certified applicators. We are hopeful that the new national standards will provide greater consistency in the knowledge and competency of applicators across the nation. In addition, those who apply pesticides aerially or by fumigation will have to demonstrate competency to use these application methods which pose high risk to applicators, farmworkers, surrounding communities and the environment. Many farmworkers applying RUPs are non-English speaking, non-certified applicators who are applying these chemicals “under the supervision” of certified applicators. These are the applicators whoare the most vulnerable to occupational injury from pesticide exposure. The vast majority are unable to read the application instructions and safety information printed on the pesticide labels, which are almost entirely in English. Although we are disappointed that the EPA does not require pesticide labels to have bilingual content, the revised rule requires supervisors to provide to non-certified applicators the label information about safety precautions and detailed use instructions in a manner and language that the non-certified applicator can understand. The revised rule also includes improved standards for supervision, establishes a minimum age of 18 for applicators, and requires non-certified applicators to receive pesticide handler and safety training in a language they understand. We hope that the improved regulation will result in greater awareness by pesticide applicators of the risks they face, stronger protections from exposure, and ultimately, fewer pesticide-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths among farmworkers and their family members. Farmworker Justice will work with farmworkers to help them understand these changes and their right to a safe workplace and environment. We will also work with EPA to ensure timely implementation and strong enforcement of the new rule, and continued engagement with farmworker communities.