BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says that a risk-based strategy for enforcing pesticide regulations is working in North Dakota.

“We levied only 143 enforcement actions during fiscal year 2010,” Goehring said. “That means that about 78 percent of the farms and businesses inspected by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture during the year were in compliance with the law.”

Goehring said the risk-based strategy was first implemented in FY 2008, resulting in a compliance rate of 77 percent.

“In 2007 – the year before we implemented the new strategy, the compliance rate was only 54 percent,” he said. “These figures support our contention that a combination of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches is needed to obtain and maintain a high rate of pesticide compliance.”

Goehring said the numbers also validate the comments of farmers, pesticide businesses and other regulated entities that most of them will comply with pesticide requirements if they understand what those requirements are.

“We allocated resources toward education and compliance assistance to complement our enforcement program,” Goehring said. “We allocated regulatory resources away from lower-risk activities such as record-keeping and bulk repackaging to much higher-risk activities as application inspections and fumigants.”

The findings are included in the annual report NDDA submits to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Goehring said he was especially proud of bringing federal officials to North Dakota to see firsthand the impact policy decisions can have on producers, especially those in the prairie pothole region and prairie dog-infested areas.

“I believe our message was well received,” Goehring said. “When they actually saw the potholes, they better understood the difficulties in complying with and enforcing boiler-plate surface water use restrictions. Likewise, when they saw the tremendous damage caused by prairie dogs, they were more determined to see that control methods would remain available.”