PIERRE — The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is the primary enforcement agency for state and federal pesticide laws in cooperation with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The SDDA registers pesticide products, licenses applicators and conducts compliance inspections and investigations.
Pesticides sold in South Dakota must be registered with the SDDA to ensure that they meet the criteria established by state and federal law. If all criteria are met by the manufacturer, the SDDA registers the product for use in South Dakota.
Anyone applying pesticides for agricultural use must be licensed. The SDDA partners with South Dakota State University Extension to train applicators throughout the state. Applicators must renew their license every 2 or 5 years, depending on whether they are a commercial or private applicator.
The SDDA completes routine inspections to ensure compliance of applicators and agricultural retailers across the state. These include use inspections conducted during applications, inspections of storage and handling of pesticides, and record keeping inspections.
Additionally, the SDDA investigates alleged misuse, misapplication or spills of agricultural products, including pesticides and fertilizers. When the SDDA receives timely information of an alleged violation of pesticide laws, an agricultural inspector is assigned by the department to investigate. As part of the investigation, the inspector interviews applicators, witnesses and others relevant to the investigation; gathers weather data and spray records; takes photos and plant samples; and documents other relevant information.
The SDDA reviews the inspector’s report, sample results and product label. It is important to keep in mind that not every inspection or investigation results in a violation. In many cases, applicators are properly licensed and pesticide applications are made according to product labels.
The SDDA takes action any time a violation is found, although the SDDA is not mandated to do so by state law. Actions range from warnings to financial penalties to administrative sanctions. For example, if an applicator is found in violation they could be subject to a Class 2 misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 per violation by the circuit court, and have their license modified, suspended or revoked by the secretary of agriculture. Any financial penalty collected is deposited in the state general fund, not given to the SDDA or an impacted party.
Finally, damages caused by the off-target application of pesticides cannot be recovered by the SDDA. Damage can occur when there is no violation and violations can occur when damage is not present. Individuals with damage from off-target applications of pesticides can recover their damages through private civil actions between those damaged and those liable for the damage.
It is the SDDA’s goal as a regulatory entity to assure the proper certification and licensure of pesticide applicators and the safe and effective use of pesticide products.
For more information, visit the SDDA’s website, sdda.sd.gov.