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The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre. (Republic file photo)

South Dakota bill on pesticide enforcement passes committee

PIERRE, S.D. — A bill that would clean up how the South Dakota Department of Agriculture regulates pesticide registration, pesticide application and enforcement of pesticide laws passed through the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The bill outlines how to report a pesticide application violation and clarifies how the reported violation would be investigated.

The bill would allow any person to report damage from the use of a pesticide or any alleged pesticide incident to the secretary on a form provided by the secretary, with a written statement, within 30 days after the date the damage was observed or the incident occurred.

If there appears to be a violation, the secretary may contemplate referring the violation to the state’s attorney in the county where the incident was reported with a copy of the results of the analysis, the examination of the pesticide or device or any other relevant evidence and information in the possession of the secretary, the bill states.

An amendment to the bill was approved by the committee that strikes language requiring a state’s attorney to prosecute the person accused of the violation “without delay.”

Licensed applicators could have their license revoked, suspended or modified if they are found to have committed acts that are in violation of state law. Under the proposed legislation, that includes transporting, storing, using, disposing of or handling any pesticide, pesticide container, rinsate, or application equipment in a manner as to endanger or cause injury to humans, vegetation, crops, livestock, wildlife or beneficial insects or to pollute groundwater or surface water.

The bill would also tighten up pesticide licensing. Any private applicator license will become invalid upon the issuance of a commercial applicators license under the proposed legislation.

Personal farm use of pesticides would no longer be exempt from licensing requirements as the bill would repeal the personal farm use section in state law.

The Sierra Club of South Dakota issued a statement on their Facebook page saying that the bill is a step in the right direction.

“However, we need greater transparency from the Department of Agriculture particularly in the areas of infractions and the full contents of chemical solutions,” the statement read. 

Kim Vanneman, Department of Agriculture secretary, provided a department update on the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the invasive ash borer. The department provides technical assistance to residents in Sioux Falls with ash trees on their property.

Vanneman was asked what the state is doing to help cattle producers get a fair shake in dealings with meat packers, but replied that the federal government has oversight in regards to those issues so the state hasn’t been involved in efforts to break up meat packing monopolies or provide livestock producers with better options.

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