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New hazardous substances rules fair to farmers

New hazardous substances rules fair to farmers

The new rules for managing hazardous substances on farms will benefit farmers, rather than be detrimental as claimed in a report released by Federated Farmers today (Monday Oct 11), Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said.

“The new rules relating to storage and use of on-farm petrol, diesel and pesticides, contained in recent amendments to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, are better, fairer and safer for farmers,” Marian Hobbs added.

“They represent a transition from there being no sensible controls to a system offering reasonable protection.”

The Federated Farmers report claims the new rules will result in unnecessary costs for arable and pastoral farmers.

Marian Hobbs said the government would study the lengthy report and give a considered response to its findings, but an initial investigation showed that claims of unnecessary costs appeared to have been exaggerated.

“The passing of the HSNO Act gave effect to a change from the old legislation, where there were gaps in controls, to a system of reasonable protection to the environment and human health,” Marian Hobbs said. “This will inevitably cost more, but not in the order of the amounts claimed by Federated Farmers.

“The new storage rules will protect farmers’ assets by reducing the risks of fires. The new pesticide handling rules will provide better health protection for farmers and farm workers, for instance with the wearing of protective clothing.

“These new rules are about protecting farmers, their families, their staff, the community and the environment.”

The controls have been decided by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), an independent body established to administer the HSNO legislation. ERMA decides the controls that should apply to hazardous substances to protect people and the environment.

The new rules relating to storage of petrol and diesel were decided in March to take effect from 1 October 2004. The rules relating to pesticides and approved handlers for pesticides were decided in July to take effect from 1 January 2005.

With the passing of the HSNO (Transitional Matters and Controls) Amendment 2004 in March, ERMA was given considerable flexibility to take a risk management approach to the controls it applies to hazardous substances.

“In making its decisions, ERMA considers whether the costs of the proposed controls are reasonable considering the risks to be managed. ERMA also considers submissions received on proposals,” Marian Hobbs said.

ERMA met with Federated Farmers to work through their concerns in June 2004 on the new proposals for pesticides.

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