VIDEO : EPA Announces Updated Standards to Protect NJ Farmworkers


HAMMONTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced their updated standards for farmers and farm workers.
“Pesticides can be very toxic, they can be very toxic. You can have short-term adverse health impacts like dizziness, respiratory illness, skin rashes, or long-term health problems, including cancer and neurological damage," said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator.
To help farm workers become less exposed to dangerous pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency has updated their standards for the first time in 24 years.
“There’ll be a minimum age before farmers can apply pesticides, I was surprised before that didn’t exist in the state of New Jersey," said Enck.
“Farm workers will be trained before entering fields that are treated with pesticides. Previously, they just needed to be trained within five days, now it’s before they go into the fields," said Enck.
Those are just a few of the new rules that will help the 13,000 farm workers in New Jersey stay safe and healthy.
“To be able to be more protective of the people who are doing the work is also more protective for the environment," said Ray Bukowski, Asst. Commissioner of NJ Dept. of Compliance and Enforcement.
Some of the updates require easier access to water, new signage requirements for toxic areas, and training. Although there are farms who already follow similar rules, if violations of the new regulations are found, there will be fines and penalties. Enck says there’s also a new provision in the regulation that protects workers from retaliation.
“We are, however, already used to implementing these regulations," said John Galletta, Food Safety Coordinator of Atlantic Blueberry Farm.
“We’re up to date, every day I update all the spray records, I make sure people know where they can go, where they can’t go to keep our employees safe," said Julie Schneider, Integrated Pest Management Supervisor of Atlantic Blueberry Farm.
“The requirements are pretty straight forward. They’re strict, absolutely, but if we can prevent exposure from pesticides, it’s all worth it," said Enck.
Until the standards are fully effective on January 2nd, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will be educating and informing farm workers of the upcoming changes.
“We’ll help everyone comply. Make people safe. Keep the farmers themselves safe, and also help protect the environment," said Bukowski.
“If we can make sure that one farm worker doesn’t have a toxic exposure to pesticides, this is all worth it," said Enck.