Compliance remains high with pesticide regulation

BISMARCK – Inspections conducted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in 2011 showed that compliance with pesticide laws and regulations among the state's producers, pesticide applicators and dealers remains high.

“By emphasizing education and a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches, we have helped users know and understand what they must do to comply with the law,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “As a result, compliance is almost 80 percent.”

Goehring said the compliance rate is consistent with those of the past three years

“We adopted a risk-based enforcement strategy in 2008 after the previous  year's figures showed a compliance rate of about 50 percent,” he said.

Goehring noted that pesticide inspections increased 60 percent to more than 1,000 in 2011, while enforcement actions resulting from inspections were up 63 percent.

“Thanks to investments in new technology and the dedication of our field inspectors and office staff, we were able to reach out to more people than ever before,” he said.

Goehring said that in addition to the record number inspections, NDDA staff participated in 79 public meetings and compliance assistance opportunities, reaching more than 2,900 people to discuss pesticide regulatory issues.

“We emphasize what people need to do to comply with laws and administrative rules and also explain the risk-based reasons why those requirements exist,” he said. .

Goehring said the annual report to the Environmental Protection Agency shows an increasing number of pesticide drift violations and complaints.

“Drift violations are perhaps understandable in windy places like North Dakota, especially this year with a short growing season in parts of the state,” he said. “It is a matter of concern, and the pesticide, feed and fertilizer division is re-evaluating its strategy for dealing with the issue.”

Goehring said NDDA's pesticide regulatory goals for 2012 include:

  • Increased attention to fumigant sales and application;
  • Developing best management practices to reduce the risk of pesticides to threatened and endangered species in North Dakota; 
  • Expansion of the integrated pesticide management in the schools program from the past year
  • Extending outreach to help homeowners and other non-agricultural pesticide users better understand existing regulatory requirements. 
  • Increased monitoring of pesticide use on or near surface water