Pesticide Conversations Already Happening with Schools

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Pesticide Conversations
Newly proposed rules about the use of pesticides near schools could be just more hoops to jump through for producers. Many areas say growers are already having those pesticide conversations.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulations has proposed new regulations on pesticide use near schools and daycares. The proposal has several rules for growers within a 1/4 of a mile of these facilities and part of the regulation aims to improve the communication between the two. Under this regulation, growers in the 1/4 mile range will have to provide two documents to the nearby schools or daycares.

Kern County started a pilot project after some concerns were raised during public hearings about future regulations. “We tried to mirror what we knew the potential regulation would look like,” Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo said. The program looked to figure out how the reporting and notification system would work. Arroyo said growers had already been having pesticide conversations with nearby schools and the only change would be putting this system online.

Once growers were shown how to use the system, Arroyo said the data showed what they had suspected. “Most of the time these affected growers aren’t applying pesticides during school hours anyways,” Arroyo said. “This is kind of our point in gathering this data, to find out what the parent’s concerns are, find out what the school concerns are and most importantly to log what we already know is happening. We already know that the communication is happening and we are just doing it now officially through the computer.”

Arroyo said many counties made changes when the hearings began several years ago. “All the data shows that we’re doing something right and that needs to be highlighted,” Arroyo said. “For example in Kern County through our Spray Safe program. We bring people to the table and say here are the problems we have…and we need to take care of them. A lot of commissioners systems implemented permit conditions because that’s what there for. To take care of your local conditions.”

“They’re there, we created them for a reason and I think they’re working,” Arroyo added.