Farm Bureau members urged to review pesticide rule changes

Farm Bureau members are urged to review recent changes to an EPA rule prior applying pesticides this year.

This past fall, a federal court decision resulted in a U.S. EPA rule change requiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit if pesticide application occurs in, over or on surface waters. The permit will be needed for pesticide applications to ditch banks, aerial spraying and fogging.

Ohio EPA’s finalized general permit, as mandated by the federal court decision, covers six use categories:

  • mosquito and other aquatic nuisance insect control
  • aquatic weed and algae control
  • forest canopy pest control
  • intrusive vegetation control
  • aquatic nuisance animal control
  • invasive plant management in resource conservation areas and mitigation areas

Ohio’s general permits have a five-year duration, and are reviewed and revised as needed at the end of that period. A general permit is one permit covering many locations that have similar discharges. An individual could request coverage under the draft general permit by submitting an application, notice of intent and paying applicable fees.

“Most pesticide discharges covered by this permit do not need to apply. The permit covers them automatically, it works like a permit‐by‐rule,” Ohio EPA’s Linda Oros said.

Only people authorizing the following pesticide discharges need to submit a notice of intent to be covered:

  • Pesticides applied directly to public water supply reservoirs
  • Pesticides applied to very high quality waters (waters classified by Ohio EPA as Outstanding National Resource Waters, Outstanding State Waters, or Superior High Quality Waters other than Lake Erie)
  • Pesticides applied to waters to control non‐native fish populations
  • Pesticides applied to more than 80 acres of wetlands per year
  • Pesticides applied to forests or applied aerially to Lake Erie

According to Oros, some farmer use of pesticides will be affected by this change, and some will not.

“Ohio EPA believes that most pesticide use by farmers would not be subject to this permit. First, the Clean Water Act exempts agriculture from NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits for pesticides in storm water or irrigation return water,” she said, “Essentially if the pesticide is applied to land and runs off, it is not subject to the permit. However, if a farmer applies pesticide to a ditch, ditch bank, swale or wetland, those applications are covered by the permit.”

Modifications were made to the original draft of the permit based on comments Ohio EPA received including cost concerns about additional paperwork. Now some pesticide users, such as homeowners, will simply be required to follow proper application procedures and restrictions.

This general permit would no longer apply if currently pending federal legislation were to move forward. The legislation, HR 872, would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), over-riding the federal court decision and U.S. EPA could no longer require additional permitting for pesticide use under the Clean Water Act. It also would prohibit issuing permits for pesticide use.

“Ohio Farm Bureau is supporting HR 872 which was introduced by Rep Bob Gibbs (OH) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (OH),” said Adam Sharp, OFBF vice president of public policy.


Visit Ohio EPA’s webpage for the final general permit for pesticide application discharges 

Callie Wells 

Callie Wells is the director of digital communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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