Organic Growers May Need Pesticide Licenses
Much of the discussion at the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) meetings over the past several months has focused on arboviral diseases – viruses transmitted by arthropods, such as mosquitoes and ticks – and the resulting BPC response. After the board’s public hearing in March and reading of written comments, the message was clear: The public overwhelmingly asked the board to reconsider its approach, protect those who choose not to be sprayed and consider the negative impacts of spraying.
During its April meeting the board summarized those comments and listed points to consider as it works toward finalizing rules. The question at hand is this: Should BPC rules allow for widespread spraying to control mosquitoes if the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes that recommendation? The board appears not to want to stand in the way of the CDC recommendation and will continue with rulemaking that allows for government-sponsored spray programs.
In a parallel discussion at the legislature, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) Committee considered the role the board, and more broadly the Maine Department of Agriculture, should play in controlling arboviral diseases. The ACF committee also believes the board needs to reconsider its approach and asked that it report back with a plan in December 2013. This issue will be building for the foreseeable future as the threat of arboviral diseases increases.
The board will hold its July 26, 2013, meeting at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. This is a great opportunity to meet board members and let them know what you think they should work on. We’d love to have a large turnout. Contact Katy Green (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions about this meeting.
In January the board approved two new genetically engineered (GE) Bt corn products for use in Maine. The products, Agrisure Viptera 3220 Refuge Renew Corn and Agrisure 3122, both require only a 5 percent spatial refuge of non-BT corn. The precedent for the smaller refuge was made in 2012 when the board approved refuge-in-a-bag corn, which contains Bt and a little non-Bt seed. At that time the board believed the reduced refuge was acceptable because the non-GE seed was mixed in the bag with GE and therefore had to be planted. These two new GE corn varieties do not contain a refuge in the bag, but the board used its prior approval of refuge-in-a-bag corn to justify the need for these varieties. Board members Deven Morrill, Clark Granger and Bruce Flewelling approved the registration; John Jemison and Carol Eckert opposed it.
In March the board approved two products for beekeepers to control Varroa mites in managed bee colonies: HopGuard (potassium salt of hop beta acids), a renewal of a request made last year; and Avipar (Amitraz), a new request.
At its April meeting the board approved a Special Local Need request for Gowan Malathion 8 Flowable to control spotted wing drosophila in wild blueberries. In 2012 the board approved an emergency exemption for this same need, although the request this year included higher application rates.
The board has considered two variance requests at recent meetings that are similar in nature. Both deal with controlling invasive species within 25 feet of the high water mark on oceanfront properties.
In one instance the board approved a request from Southern Maine Forestry Services Inc. to use Garlon 3A on a Scarborough property to treat honeysuckle and bittersweet. In the second the board asked that Terry Stephens, who initiated the request, return with more information about the application need and property specifications of a site in Northeast Harbor that he proposes treating to control Japanese knotweed.
In March the board unanimously approved a consent agreement with Essex Power Services Inc., of Boston, Massachusetts. In this case an Oakland, Maine, resident witnessed what appeared to be a pesticide application taking place on the dam outlet from Messalonskee Lake in Oakland and subsequently questioned the applicator, who admitted to applying the herbicide. The Oakland resident then alerted the BPC. A board inspector followed up and confirmed that use of Bayer Advanced Dura Zone Ready to Use Weed & Grass Killer in this case violated three rules: The product is intended for outdoor residential use only; is not to be applied where it can run off into surface waters; and was used in a careless, negligent or faulty manner. A $400 fine was levied.
Also in March the board unanimously approved a consent agreement and $300 fine with J & S Oil Co. of Manchester, Maine, for applying pesticides at its Farmingdale store. In this case the caller witnessed an application of Scotts Turf Builder Plus 2 Weed Control to a public area and notified the board. A follow-up investigation found that the applicator did not have the required license.
At its April meeting the board reached a consent agreement with TRP Logging of East Machias. In this case the caller observed an application of Ortho Weed B GON to turf at McDonald’s Restaurant in Machias. A BPC inspector determined that nobody at TRP Logging is a licensed commercial applicator as is required to make pesticide applications to public spaces. The board unanimously approved the $350 fine.
In a similar case the board fined Firehouse Property Maintenance of Falmouth $500 for an unlicensed pesticide application to Bank of America Property in Gardiner. In this case the applicator used Roundup Weed & Grass Killer, and the person who alerted the board noted that the wind was gusting during the application. The fine in this case was slightly larger, primarily because the board discovered that the product used was in concentrate form and that the container was empty, signaling to the inspector that more than one improper application likely was made.
In an unusual incident the board considered and unanimously approved a consent agreement with Bruce Hunter of Farmington, Connecticut, for an unauthorized pesticide application to the Chebeague Island Golf Glub. (Hunter’s family owns a cottage on Chebeague Island.) Staff at the golf course noticed browning shrubs along the property line shared with Mr. Hunter and along the ocean side of the course that is in line with his view. Factual disputes exist, and Mr. Hunter has not admitted to the violation to the board, but residue tests confirmed that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp and similar products, was present in the areas of browning shrubs. This is a violation of Maine rules that do not allow for applications of pesticides to a property of another unless prior consent for the application has been obtained from the owner, manager or legal occupant of that property. A $600 fine was levied. Mr. Hunter disputes the facts in this case but signed the consent agreement nonetheless.
– Katy Green
Organic Growers May Need Pesticide Licenses
Maine organic growers: Do you apply spinosad to your sweet corn? PyGanic on your carrots? You may need a pesticide applicator's license!
By April 1, 2015, any Maine grower who sells annually more than $1,000 worth of plants or plant products intended for human consumption and who uses any general-use pesticide – one with an EPA registration number on the label – on those crops must be licensed by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC).
This law applies to those who grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains for human consumption; to growers of the above crops who make bread, jam, french fries, wine, cider, juice, etc., or sell produce to be processed into such products; and to greenhouse growers selling fruit, vegetable and herb seedlings. The Agricultural Basic pesticide license is for growers who use only general-use pesticides on property they own or lease.
To obtain an Agricultural Basic pesticide applicator license, growers must pass the BPC core exam, which is based on the Pesticide Education (Core) Manual (available from UMaine Cooperative Extension at http://umaine.edu/ipm/pesticide-safety/certification-manual-prices/ or by calling 207-581-3880). The exam can be taken at the BPC office in Augusta (207-287-2731) or at county Cooperative Extension offices. Contact the BPC office to have the exam mailed to the Extension office and then arrange with Extension to take the exam.
Licenses expire on October 31 of the third year after issuance and cost $15. To maintain a license, growers must obtain three hours of continuing education credit during the three-year license period. For more information, see Chapter 33 of the BPC rules at www.thinkfirstspraylast.org.