Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TDA announces new penalty guidelines

It would be nice if we all would be motivated to do the right thing solely by the promises of good things (carrots!).  But in reality most of us need painful consequences (the proverbial stick!) to keep us consistently honest.  That's the reason for the new Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) penalty matrix.

On June 14 the TDA and the Structural Pest Control Service published new penalty guidelines and a penalty matrix (table) for companies in violation of pest control rules and regulations.  The TDA has always worked from a table of penalties, though the industry rarely saw it.  The new penalty guidelines and tables are an attempt to make the process more transparent to your business and the public.

Because these are not new rules or regulations, the penalty matrix does not require public input, though the TDA has indicated that it will accept and consider comments and recommendations. Draft versions of the matrix were previously shown to the Texas Pest Control Association and the Structural Pest Control Advisory Committee, and comments were incorporated into the final draft published last week. The matrix will go into effect July 1.

As a member of the Advisory Committee I hear comment from many of you concerning enforcement of rules.  I know one of the major concerns by conscientious applicators around the state is that penalties be significant, yet fair and consistently enforced.  The new matrix does involve increases in some fines, and is designed to encourage more consistency in penalty assessment over the previous matrix.

The table allows the TDA some freedom in determining the exact fine, and a fine may be higher that indicated on the table depending on intent of the violator and consequences of the violation.  I encourage everyone with a structural pest control business to become familiar with the matrix, and review it with employees this summer as a reminder that the carrot is always better than the stick.

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