The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is moving forward with the process of developing a statewide pesticide notification system. DPR has been provided with a budget of $10 million for the development of a notification system. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) has been participating in one of the working groups involved in the process. WAPA President and CEO Roger Isom said they have been working to address several questions related to the proposed program.
“What could the system consist of? What should it look like? When should it kick in? Is it all chemicals? Is it just restricted-use chemicals? Should it apply to any type of application?” Isom explained. “Is it ground rig, or is it only aerial applications? Should it be if I’m a half-mile away, or anywhere in the state?”
A series of focus group meetings have already been held in an effort to establish the framework for the new program. The focus groups include regulated industries, growers, community members, and regulators. Early in the process, the focus group sessions are designed to highlight questions and hear questions as the notification system gets developed.
Isom raised concern regarding similar pesticide notification approaches in areas like Monterey and Kern counties as having unintended consequences. After notification of a pending pesticide application, activists gathered at the site and disrupted the process. Instances like that, Isom explains, create uneasiness as it relates to a statewide system.
Isom noted that safety is a paramount concern for farmers and ranchers. However, there are questions as to the necessity of a pesticide notification system that covers the state in its entirety. In a recent group meeting, the question of incident data showing a need for a statewide approach was asked. Isom said that barring evidence of an actual, legitimate need that is backed by data, a statewide notification system would cause more harm than good.
“Nobody in this country has a pesticide reporting system like California does. Nobody in this country has an approval system – especially for restricted-use materials – like California does. We do it the safest as anyone in the world and I can guarantee you that. Any county ag commissioner can tell you that. Even the Department of Pesticide Regulation can tell you that,” said Isom. “They’re trying to find a problem where one doesn’t exist. So, we’re pushing back on it.”
More information on the Statewide Pesticide Notification Network is available from DPR.