Two pesticide drift incidents during the month of June resulted in dozens of farm workers being exposed in Fresno and Tulare Counties. The agricultural commissioners for both counties are continuing to investigate the events, but the media coverage that the incidents are receiving create an atmosphere for even further regulation moving forward.
“When you have sensationalized stories…then we don’t get the luxury of being angry when our friends in the state legislature or our friends at state-level regulatory agencies feel the need to impose further burden on us,” said President and CEO of AgSafe Amy Wolfe. “Because guess what? We’re not holding up our end of the bargain when it comes to talking to one another.”
Initial reports have indicated that the exposure was a result of pesticide drift from neighboring properties that were making applications. In one instance, the grower reported that they had not been notified of any applications that were scheduled in the area. The two events highlight the issues of responsibility and communication when it comes to material applications.
“Communicating between neighbors, regardless of what product you’re using…is just part of a good best practice that we need to get into so as to mitigate further regulation,” said Wolfe. “We all suffer collectively as an industry when everybody says, ‘not my job’ and workers end up having some type of pesticide exposure.”
When accidents occur, particularly when they are related to pesticides, it puts the entire agricultural industry under increased scrutiny. Wolfe stresses the importance of better communication between pest control advisors, ag retailers, growers, and farm labor contractors. Unless a more communicative approach is voluntarily taken by the industry as a whole, it is likely that intervention in the form of increased regulation will be the result.
“The legislature will take it upon themselves to solve this problem for us. They’re going to do it by taking away the products entirely, and/or they’re going to completely restrict and limit when we can do things, how we do things or require more reporting,” said Wolfe. “We’ve just got to step it up and own it for ourselves and show that we as an industry can take responsibility for this effective communication.”
Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.