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Governor, Task Force push to streamline farming regulations

Posted 19 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Governor Cuomo’s Office

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced new initiatives to streamline regulatory burdens currently placed on farmers in New York. The first-ever “Strategic Interagency Task Force on Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture” identified new opportunities for improving the regulations for pesticide registration and certification without compromising current environmental protections.

Additional regulatory changes for the benefit of New York agriculture as a result of the Task Force will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

“This administration remains committed to supporting farmers and cutting red tape to make it easier for agricultural businesses to grow and thrive in New York,” Cuomo said. “Through this task force, we are implementing commonsense solutions that will improve business for our farmers and maintain this state’s strong commitment to protecting the environment.”

The Task Force is comprised of leadership from state government and representatives from the agriculture industry. It met five times during 2014, working together to develop recommendations to streamline the regulatory process for the state’s robust agricultural economy to grow. During these meetings, farmers identified concerns on a variety of current regulations and posed them to the task force, which responded with the following solutions:

Easier Pesticide Registration Process

In response to feedback from farmers, the Department of Environmental Conservation improved its pesticide product registration processes by scheduling pre-application meetings with registrants, reducing potential delays. It has also improved notification of new pesticide registrations to applicators and distributors.

Faster Recertification Process for Pesticide Applicators

Farmers using pesticides are required to be certified as private pesticide applicators and take either continuing education courses or a recertification exam every five years to remain current. The DEC now tracks applicator certification status in a new database, which improves the renewal notice process. Later phases will allow farmers to view and update their own information online.

Simplify Categories for Pesticide Applicators

New York State has seven private pesticide certifications. To make it easier for farmers to diversify the commodities they grow, the DEC now allows an applicant to request to switch their category, in most cases, and will propose consolidating the categories to simplify certification requirements.

“Based on these recommendations, the Department of Environmental Conservation has identified actions that will reduce the regulatory burdens on farmers and help them use approved products without weakening environmental protections,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “Farmers are excellent stewards of the environment and we will continue to work with the agriculture community to promote New York’s agricultural economy and natural resources.”

Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Director, said the Task Force was able to “look for common sense solutions.”

“Changes to the pesticide approval and certifications processes will create greater efficiencies while maintaining a high level of standards in this state,” Williams said. “New York Farm Bureau appreciates the leadership of Gov. Cuomo’s administration, including the efforts of the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets, and the work of the entire committee. We look forward to even more regulatory changes to support New York’s farmers.”