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There are many laws that regulate pesticide use by private, commercial and urban pesticide applicators. These laws provide not only a method of registering pesticides but also a system of classifying pesticides for general or restricted use, a method of labeling pesticides, and a training and licensing system for farm applicators using restricted use pesticides. A method of enforcement also includes penalties for violators.

Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

FIFRA is the primary law that governs the registration, labeling, use and sale of pesticides in the United States. State laws must comply with FIFRA standards. The law was enacted in 1947 and was administered by the United States Department Agriculture (USDA). Since then, FIFRA has been amended numerous times and now is administered by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

The 1972 amendments to FIFRA required that all pesticides be classified as either general or restricted use. A General Usepesticide is defined in FIFRA as one which will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment when used in accordance with its labeling. Such pesticides normally are available to the public without a license. Restricted Usepesticides are defined as those which may generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, including injury to the applicator. Those pesticides placed in the restricted category may be used only by or under the supervision of certified (licensed) applicators or under such other conditions as the EPA may require to protect humans and the environment.

The 1972 amendments to FIFRA also defined two classes of applicators, commercial and farm (private). A farm (private) applicator is defined as a certified (licensed) applicator who uses or supervises the use of any restricted use pesticide for the purpose of producing any agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by the applicator or their employer. Montana regulations allow only the application of general use pesticides on property of an immediate or adjacent landowner, if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers. Farm applicators become certified (licensed) by either (1) attending a pesticide training course and completing an ungraded exam at the end of that training or, (2) by taking a Farm Applicator's Exam without the benefit of the pesticide training course. A score of at least 70% is required for the certification.

A commercial applicatoris defined in FIFRA as a certified applicator who uses or supervises the use of any restricted use pesticide for any purpose or on property other than as provided by the definition of a farm applicator. To become a certified commercial applicator, individuals must demonstrate practical knowledge of the principles and practices of safe pest control by taking a graded examination and scoring at least 80% to be eligible to apply restricted use products. A minimum score of 70% is required to apply general use products.

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)amended FIFRA once more. Amendments included the establishment of a system for reviewing pesticide registrations and tolerances on a 15 year cycle, authorization for EPA to suspend pesticide registrations immediately under emergency conditions, and requirements that EPA develop criteria for reduced-risk pesticides and expedite their registrations.

FIFRA is administered by the EPA, but the Act specifies that states are to have primary enforcement responsibility if they demonstrate to the EPA that they have adopted adequate regulations and enforcement mechanisms. Montana has entered into cooperative agreements with the EPA and now shoulders the responsibilities for testing and training both commercial and private applicators. In these areas, the EPA now has only a supervisory position. However, the registration of pesticides and the monitoring of pesticide producers is still regulated entirely by the EPA. In addition, FIFRA provides for criminal and civil penalties to be assessed for violations of provisions of the Act. Any manufacturer, commercial applicator, dealer, or distributor may be fined up to $5,000 for each offense. Farm or private applicators are given written warnings and/or a fined of up to $500 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses may be $1,000.

FIFRA violations include:

  • Selling a restricted use pesticide to a person not certified to purchase such products
  • Using a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling
  • Selling a pesticide that is not registered for use in Montana or for which the registration was cancelled or suspended
  • Failure to keep required records or to allow the inspection, copying or sampling

Worker Protection Standard

Under FIFRA, the EPA has general authority to regulate pesticide use in order to minimize risks to human health and the environment. This authority extends to the protection of farm workers exposed to pesticides. In April of 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to protect employees on farms and in forests, nurseries and greenhouses from exposure to both general and restricted-use agricultural pesticides. The WPS covers workers in areas treated with pesticides and employees who handle pesticides in the production of agricultural plants or commodities.

It requires employers to protect two types of agricultural employees: agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The standard is applicable when a WPS-labeled pesticide is used to produce an agricultural plant or commodity. Some pesticide uses are not covered by the WPS, even when the Agricultural Use Requirements section is on the labeling. For example, if the pesticide labeling bears an Agricultural Use Requirements section, but the product can also be applied to rights-of-way, the rights-of-way use is not covered by the WPS.

The WPS does NOT cover pesticides applied:

  • on pastures, rangelands or livestock,
  • for control of vertebrate pests such as rodents, ground squirrels, etc,
  • on the harvested portions of agricultural plants or harvested timber,
  • for mosquito abatement or similar government-sponsored wide-area public pest control programs,
  • on plants grown for other than commercial or research purposes, which may include plants in habitations, home fruit and vegetable gardens, and home greenhouses,
  • on plants that are in ornamental gardens, parks, golf courses, and public or private lawns and grounds, and that are intended only for decorative or environmental benefits, (Sod farms are covered by the WPS),
  • on plants in golf courses (except those areas set-aside for plant production), or right-of-way areas;
  • in a manner not directly related to the production of agricultural plants, including the control of vegetation along rights-of-way and in other non-crop areas, and structural pest control, such as wood preservation.
  • for research uses of unregistered pesticides.

Under WPS, all employers must comply with any pesticide labeling instructions concerning worker safety or be subject to penalties. Labels may include, for example, instructions requiring the wearing of protective clothing, handling instructions, and instructions setting a period of time before workers are allowed to re-enter fields after the application of pesticides.

Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act (1990 Farm Bill)

This act required that certified (licensed) private applicators maintain records, comparable to the records kept by commercial applicators, regarding the use of restricted use pesticides. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) was designated to administer the Federal Pesticide Recordkeeping Program. While there is no standardized Federal form for maintaining records, there is certain information that must be recorded within 30 days following the pesticide application. This gives the applicator flexibility in creating forms and format to fit their particular situation. The information that must be recorded includes:

  • The brand or trade name and EPA registration number of the restricted use pesticide that was applied;
  • The total amount of the restricted use pesticide applied;
  • The location of the application, the size of the area treated, and the crop, commodity, stored product, or site to which a restricted use pesticide was applied;
  • The month, day and year when the restricted use pesticide application occurred;
  • The name and applicator identification number of the certified applicator who applied or who supervised the application of the restricted use pesticide; and
  • Application(s) of restricted use pesticides in a total area of less than one-tenth of an acre (4356 sq. ft or 66 ft x 66 ft) occurring on the same day shall require brand/trade name, EPA registration number, total amount applied, designation of "spot application" for location and date of application.

Records must be maintained for at least a 2-year period after an application and access to record information is limited to USDA authorized representatives, State authorized representatives and attending, licensed health care professionals when treating individuals who may have been exposed to pesticides.

A certified applicator who violates any provision of the regulations may be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and possibly $1000 for subsequent offenses.

Montana Pesticides Act

The Montana Pesticides Act (MPA), Title 80, Chapter 8, Sections 8-8-101 through 80-8-306, MCA was enacted in 1971 and is subdivided into three major areas of responsibility: (1) Registration of pesticides; (2) Licensing of pesticide applicators, operators and dealers; and (3) Enforcement and administrative procedures

Registration of Pesticides

  • All pesticides used in Montana must be registered with the EPA.
  • All EPA registered pesticides used in Montana must also be registered with the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA).
  • MDA is given the authority to sample, inspect and make analysis of pesticides distributed within Montana to ensure compliance with the Montana Pesticides Act.
  • MDA may also register pesticides under Section 24C and 18 of FIFRA. Section 24C (Special Local Needs) and Section 18 (Specific or Emergency Exemption) registrations generally require supplemental labeling.

Licensing Provisions

  • A farm or private pesticide applicator is any person who applies pesticides to their own crops or land. This includes suburban residents.
  • Commercial applicators are individuals who by contract or for hire apply pesticides.
  • An individual who purchases restricted use pesticides must have a farm applicator license.
  • An individual who purchases general use pesticides does not need a farm applicators license.

Montana Administrative Rules

Rules and Regulations

The MDA has the authority to adopt by reference, without a public hearing, regulations adopted under FIFRA and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of the MPA. These Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) are referenced under Title 4, Chapter 10, Sections 4.10.101 through 4.10.1808.

Emergency Powers

The MDA may declare an emergency when an event exists that requires immediate action with regard to the registration, use or application of pesticides. The MDA director may, without notice or hearing, issue necessary orders to protect the public from adverse effects of pesticides. Investigative and Enforcement Authority. The MDA, upon reasonable cause, has the authority to enter upon private and public premises and property with a warrant or consent of the owner to inspect or investigate actual or reported violations of laws and regulations regarding pesticide use in Montana.

Montana Agricultural Chemical Groundwater Protection Act (MACGWPA)

The Montana Agricultural Chemical Groundwater Protection Act, Title 80, Chapter 15, MCA is administer jointly by the MDA and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This law establishes Montana policy protecting water resources and the use of agricultural chemicals by:

  • Establishing water quality standards for agricultural chemicals where federal standards exists and for those agri-chemicals whose presence has been verified in ground water.
  • Monitoring of groundwater to determine whether residues of agri-chemicals are present or if there is a likelihood that agri-chemicals may enter groundwater
  • Development of management plans for the protection of groundwater resources through the management of agrichemicals.

Montana Water Quality Act (MWQA)

MWQA is administered by DEQ and its purpose is to provide additional remedies to prevent, abate and control the pollution of state waters. Contained within MWQA are the emergency powers of DEQ (ARM 16.20.1025) which contain procedures that must be followed when there are spills or unanticipated discharges of pesticides that would lower groundwater quality. Under MWQA, it is unlawful to pollute any state waters, or to place or cause to be placed any wastes, in a location where they will cause pollution of state waters. MWQA would be applicable where water treated with aquatic herbicides were allowed to pollute state waters.

Montana Pollution Elimination System Program (MPDES)

The Montana Pesticide General Permit (PGP) is the permitting mechanism for anyone who applies pesticides into or over state surface water. The PGP is not a pesticide permit; it is a wastewater discharge permit regulated under the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Montana Pollution Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) program. Discharge of pollutants to state water without a permit is a violation of the Montana Water Quality Act in 75-5-605, Montana Code Annotated (MCA).

A Notice of Intent (NOI) submittal is required before pesticide is applied to or over surface water. The NOI is a legal notification by the owner/operator to DEQ that they will comply with the PGP. If the application of pesticides occurs within the boundaries of Indian Lands, the owner/operator will need to comply with the permit requirements of the EPA’s Pesticide Program.

Montana Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act

The Miller Amendment (1954) of the Montana Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires that any raw agricultural commodity be condemned as adulterated if it contains pesticides for which there is no established tolerance or for which established tolerance limits are exceeded.

Montana Clean Air Act

Under the Montana Clean Air Act, the burning of pesticide containers (cardboard, paper bags, plastic bags, etc.) is prohibited.

Montana Solid Waste Laws

The Montana Solid Waste Management Act prohibits the disposal of any solid waste in any location not licensed as a solid waste disposal site by the DEQ. This includes pesticide containers.