Crop Protection

The Impact of Regulations For Farmers

Regulations Affect California Farmers in a Big Way

By Tim Hammerich, with The Ag Information Network of The West

Most Californians will tell you they enjoy the local and diverse amounts of produce available in this state. High labor costs and other heavy regulations are encouraging some farmers to shift more focus on crops that are less labor intensive.

“So with a minimum wage going up, with the overtime rules ratcheting down, we’re kind of caught in a vice,” said Cannon Michael, President of Bowles Farming Co and the 6th generation of his family to farm the land near Los Banos.  “And to put one wage across an entire state where you really have different costs of living in different counties, it’s pretty drastic differences, really makes it difficult,” he added.

“And then when you couple that with the fact that the Federal minimum wage is much lower in a lot of other producing areas of the country that compete with us, don’t have even close to what the minimum wage that we have,” said Michael. “And they don’t have the overtime because they have the federal exemption for overtime.”

And then so not only that, but you look outside of the U S and there’s  Mexico and some of our close competitors there, which have no regulatory standards. “They do not have the standards that push up our fuel prices, chemical costs, really every single input that we have is a higher cost here.”

We are always looking for the right mix of crops that we can grow, that deliver the highest value while again, just not stretching our folks too hard, and too far. “Because it is hard as you diversify into a lot of different things, it gets to be challenging,” he said.

Even though the regulatory pressure is there, Michael said he is very committed to making it work, but the regulatory environment is certainly a challenge.

2020-02-04T17:19:41-08:00February 6th, 2020|

Chlorpyrifos Sales Will End in Feb.

Agreement Reached to End Sale of Chlorpyrifos in California by February 2020

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced today that virtually all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in California will end next year following an agreement between the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and pesticide manufacturers to withdraw their products.

“For years, environmental justice advocates have fought to get the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos out of our communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Thanks to their tenacity and the work of countless others, this will now occur faster than originally envisioned. This is a big win for children, workers and public health in California.”

“The swift end to the sale of chlorpyrifos protects vulnerable communities by taking a harmful pesticide off the market,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld. “This agreement avoids a protracted legal process while providing a clear timeline for California farmers as we look toward developing alternative pest management practices.”

Earlier this year, DPR announced it was acting to ban use of chlorpyrifos by canceling the pesticide’s product registrations. The decision follows mounting evidence, PDF that chlorpyrifos is associated with serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood, including impaired brain and neurological development.

At the same time, DPR and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have established a cross-sector working group to identify, evaluate and recommend safer, more sustainable pest management alternatives to chlorpyrifos. It will hold its first meeting this month and will hold three public workshops beginning in January.

The agreement with Dow AgroSciences and other companies means that use of chlorpyrifos will end sooner than anticipated had the companies pursued administrative hearings and potential appeals process, which could have taken up to two years. Under the settlement, the companies agreed that:

  • All sales of chlorpyrifos products to growers in California will end on Feb. 6, 2020.
  • Growers will no longer be allowed to possess or use chlorpyrifos products in California after Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Until then, all uses must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives. DPR will support aggressive enforcement of these restrictions.

To ensure consistency for growers and for enforcement purposes, DPR is applying the terms and deadlines in the settlements to seven other companies that are not part of the settlement agreement but are subject to DPR’s cancellation orders.

A few products that apply chlorpyrifos in granular form, representing less than one percent of agricultural use of chlorpyrifos, will be allowed to remain on the market. These products are not associated with detrimental health effects. DPR will continue to monitor for any exposures associated with these products.

The development of safe, more sustainable alternatives to chlorpyrifos is being supported through the current state budget, which appropriates more than $5 million in grant funding for the purpose.

  • DPR will award more than $2.1 million in grants to fund projects that identify, develop, and implement safer, practical, and sustainable pest management alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
  • CDFA will award approximately $2 million in grants to expand outreach about innovative, biologically integrated farming systems that reduce chemical insecticide inputs. Crops that have used chlorpyrifos will be a priority.
  • CDFA will also fund approximately $1.5 million in research to develop alternatives to chlorpyrifos that provide safer, more sustainable pest management solutions.

Quick facts:

  • Chlorpyrifos is used to control pests on a variety of crops, including alfalfa, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts. It has declined in use over the past decade as California growers have shifted to safer alternatives.
  • Use of the pesticide dropped more than 50 percent from two million pounds in 2005 to just over 900,000 pounds in 2017.
  • In 2015, DPR designated chlorpyrifos as a “restricted material” that requires a permit from the county agricultural commissioner for its application. In addition, application of chlorpyrifos must be recommended by a licensed pest control advisor and supervised by a licensed certified applicator.
  • Following DPR’s designation of chlorpyrifos as a toxic air contaminant in 2018, DPR recommended that county agricultural commissioners apply additional permit restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives.

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2020-01-02T17:41:57-08:00January 3rd, 2020|

Field Bindweed is A Struggle to Control

Field Bindweed Difficult to Manage

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Field Bindweed is a struggle in the summer months. Scott Stoddard, UCANR Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Merced County, discussed with California Ag Today how to manage the weed during the summer in annual crops.

“Field Bindweed is predominantly a summer weed, so we are trying to manage it more in our summer annual crops such as cotton, corn, melons, and tomatoes,” Stoddard said.

This weed has been documented back 100 years but only recently has become more of a problem for farmers.

“It did not seem to be as universally impacting people as much as it does now,” Stoddard said.

Farmers are asking themselves what they are doing irrigation-wise that impacts the weeds.

“Does drip irrigation favor this weed? Does conservation tillage favor this weed? There are all kinds of unknowns,” Stoddard explained.

Stacking herbicides can help and control the Field Bindweed.

“Herbicides in the annual crop systems are marginal and you have to stack them. You have to combine the Roundup with something like a Treflan and then combine that maybe with some applications of other herbicides,” Stoddard said.

Even with stacking the herbicides, they are still marginal. On the herbicide angle, this is one of the things that makes weeds so challenging.

2021-05-12T11:01:46-07:00July 26th, 2019|

Pesticide Air Monitoring Shows Low Numbers

2018 Air Monitoring Shows Most Pesticides Below Health Screening Levels

News Release

 The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released air monitoring results indicating that most of the pesticides monitored in the DPR air monitoring network in 2018 were found below levels that indicate a health concern.

However, data from a separate two-year study of the pesticide 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), a known carcinogen, shows air concentrations in Parlier (Fresno County) will require further action.  1,3-D is used to fight pests that attack a wide range of crops, including almonds, grapes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

“Air quality is fundamental for all Californians, and the latest data from DPR’ s air monitoring network shows levels of agricultural pesticides in most communities that are well within our public health standards,” said Val Dolcini, DPR acting director. “In many cases, the amount of pesticide in the air was negligible, but our scientists will continue to use this data to help DPR develop plans to reduce the presence of 1,3-D in the future.”

In 2018, DPR, with assistance from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, monitored air concentrations of 31 pesticides and 5 pesticide breakdown products in eight agricultural communities. The monitoring stations are in Shafter (Kern County), Santa Maria, Cuyama (Santa Barbara County), Watsonville (Santa Cruz County) and Chualar (Monterey County), Lindsay (Tulare County), Oxnard (Ventura County) and San Joaquin (Fresno County).

The air-monitoring network, which began in 2011, was established to help expand DPR’s knowledge of the potential long-term exposure and health risks from pesticides in the air. California is the only state that monitors air as part of its continuous evaluation of pesticides to ensure the protection of workers, public health, and the environment.

The 2018 air monitoring report shows that of the 36 pesticides and breakdown products measured at the monitoring sites, most did not exceed screening levels or regulatory targets.

Other highlights include:
  • 8 pesticides were not detected at all and
  • 17 pesticides were only detected at trace level.

In January 2018, however, the air monitoring results showed that the pesticide 1, 3-D had a 13-week average concentration in Shafter of 5.6 parts per billion (ppb), which is significantly above the short-term (13-week) screening level of 3.0 ppb. A screening level is a level set by DPR to determine if a more detailed evaluation is warranted to assess a potential health risk.

DPR, along with the Kern County ag commissioner, investigated this detection and determined that it largely arose from a single application of 1,3-D made during this 13-week period. While this reading was not high enough to indicate an immediate health threat, DPR is consulting with other state agencies on next steps to reduce the exposures to 1,3-dichloropropene.

 

List of communities in the Air Monitoring Network

communities in air monitoring 2018 table.JPG

 

In addition to the 2018 annual air monitoring results mentioned above, DPR conducted a two-year air monitoring study of 1,3-D in Parlier (Fresno County) and Delhi (Merced County) from 2016 to 2018. The measured air concentrations in Parlier also exceed DPR’s screening levels and indicate that more mitigation is needed to reduce the exposures of this pesticide.

 These findings will be discussed at the next Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee (PREC) on July 19. The meeting will be live webcast.

Read the full 2018 air monitoring report here 

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 18th, 2019|

Citrus Growers’ Response To Huanglongbing

Industry Committee Endorses Voluntary Best Practices

News Release

To provide California citrus growers with a strong toolbox of science-supported strategies and tactics to protect their orchards from Huanglongbing (HLB), the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee endorsed a set of best practices for growers to voluntarily employ in response to HLB in California.

Adult Asian citrus psyllid, Huanglongbing

Adult Asian citrus psyllid (Photo by J. Lewis). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

The recommendations—which were developed based on a grower’s proximity to an HLB detection—represent the most effective tools known to the citrus industry at this time and are meant to supplement the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s required regulatory response. The best practices were developed by a task force consisting of growers from various regions across the state and scientists, all of whom were nominated by the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee.

Voluntary best practices were developed for growers in the four following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Orchards outside of an HLB quarantine area
  • Scenario 2: Orchards located between one and five miles of an HLB detection (within an HLB quarantine area)
  • Scenario 3: Orchards within one mile of an HLB detection but not known to be infected
  • Scenario 4: Orchards with HLB

The best practices vary in each scenario but all address: awareness, scouting for the Asian citrus psyllid, controlling Asian citrus psyllids with treatments, protecting young trees and replants, employing barriers or repellents, visually surveying for HLB, testing psyllid and plant material for HLB using a direct testing method like polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and tending to trees’ root health. The voluntary best practices in all four scenarios can be found at CitrusInsider.org.

While HLB has not yet been detected in a commercial grove in California, the disease continues to spread throughout residential communities of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties. HLB has infected more than 1,400 citrus trees, and 1,003 square miles are currently in an HLB quarantine area.

“Our state’s citrus industry has held the line against HLB since the first detection seven years ago. We should commend our efforts but must not forget the devastating impact HLB could have on our orchards and our livelihood,” said Jim Gorden, chair of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and a citrus grower in Tulare County.

“We know the cost to manage the Asian citrus psyllid is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry should HLB take hold throughout our state. These voluntary best practices are meant to serve as a box of tools so growers can use as many as are feasible for their operation in order to limit the spread of the psyllid and disease,” said Keith Watkins, chair of the task force that developed the best practices and vice president of farming at Bee Sweet Citrus.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 3rd, 2019|

Bio-Control for Strawberry Growers

Strawberry Growers Lean on Biologicals to Manage Pest

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently met with Surendra Dara, a UC Cooperative Extension entomologist based in San Luis Obispo County. According to Dara, California strawberry growers follow many sustainable options.

“Growers are well-educated and have a support system that provides information to them very regularly,” Dara said.

Growers try to apply as much of the IPMs as possible, but there is always a lot more scope in terms of using non-chemical alternatives. That is an area that has room to grow.Strawberries

“The more we know about the options and their potential, they can be more adopted,” Dara said.

He explained that the strawberry growers often lean on biological insects such as beneficial mites that treat those damaging insects. It’s all part of IPM.

The insects are used outdoors along with in greenhouses.

“A bio-control is very well done in strawberries for mite control, but we do not have similar natural enemies for other pests,” Dara said.

There are botanical and microbial options for pest and disease management, and a lot of work is being done about understanding how they work and placing them in the right strategy.

“So, there is definitely plenty of options for us,” Dara said.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00June 28th, 2019|

California Shows Decreased Use of Most-Hazardous Pesticides

There Was a Big Decline of Hazardous Material Used in 2017

News Release

The amount of pesticides used statewide declined in 2017 according to new data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.  This includes a drop in many of the most hazardous chemicals, including pesticides that are carcinogens, and those with the potential to contaminate groundwater and air.

According to the 2017 Pesticide Use Report, the overall amount of pesticides used in California dropped to about 205 million pounds in 2017. That was a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year.  Agriculture use, which accounts for the greatest pesticide use in California, dropped by 3.7 million pounds (1.9 percent) from 2016. Pesticide use in other applications, including landscaping and structural pest control, also decreased in 2017. 

“This report demonstrates that California’s farmers continue to lead the way when it comes to using more sustainable pest management tools and techniques,”said Val Dolcini, Acting Director of DPR. “DPR looks forward to continuing its collaboration with growers, community groups, and other interested citizens to ensure that these pesticides are used in the safest manner possible. “

California produces nearly half of American grown fruits and vegetables, and the amount of pesticides used varies annually depending upon pest problems, weather and other factors.

You can see a short video at https://youtu.be/QKgExqdRpNM

Other highlights of the 2017 Pesticide Use Report data include:

  • The use of carcinogenic pesticides decreased by 5.6 percent to 41.7 million pounds, compared to 44.2 million pounds in 2016.
  • The use of fumigant pesticides decreased by 5.8 percent to 39.5 million pounds, compared to 41.9 million pounds the previous year.
  • The use of pesticides that are toxic air contaminants decreased by 6.4 percent to 43 million pounds, compared to 45.9 million pounds in 2016.
  • The use of pesticides with the potential to contaminate ground water decreased by 25.3 percent to 0.4 million pounds compared to 0.5 million pounds in 2016.
  • The use of pesticides identified as cholinesterase inhibitors, which can affect the nervous system, decreased by 2.6 percent to 4.2 million pounds compared to 4.3 million pounds in 2016. The pesticide chlorpyrifos is included in this category. In 2017, the use of chlorpyrifos increased by 5 percent to 946,000 pounds, compared to 903,000 pounds in 2016. However, overall use of chlorpyrifos has been decreasing for the last decade, and last month, DPR announced plans to  cancel the registration of this pesticide.
  • The use of biopesticides, which have been identified as likely to be low risk to human health and the environment, increased to approximately 8.1 million pounds. This is a 5.5 percent increase from 7.7 million pounds used in 2016.

The pesticide-use data, which has become more comprehensive in the decades since such information started being collected in the 1950s, helps support DPR in its regulatory and enforcement mission.  It can be viewed online: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pur/purmain.htm.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00June 18th, 2019|

Ag Start Provides a Place to Start for Agriculture Innovations

California Ag Start Helps Startup Companies

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With the help of corporate sponsors, new agriculture technology companies are making strides to improve efficiency for growers. California Ag Start, a nonprofit incubator for startup companies in the food and agricultural technology sector, is helping to process these sponsors and support innovations throughout the industry.

“We have access to our corporate sponsors who are also in the Ag Technology space, and we can access some of their science and other professionals as mentors to these startup companies,” said John Selep, President of AgTech Innovation Alliance—the 501(c)3 non-profit behind Ag Start.

One of the ways Ag Start is helping to improve efficiency in the field comes from a company using hyperspectral imagery to check nutrients in soils. “They can actually do almost a continuous scan as a plow is going through the field and develop a continuous map of the nutrient profile within that soil,” Selep explained.

Typically, when a grower tests their soil, they pick two to three spots to sample from and will not receive data on it for a couple of days. According to Selep, hyperspectral scanning will not only help eliminate that wait time, but will provide a much more detailed analysis of the entire field.

“You’d be much more precise about where you put nutrients. Just enough in the places it’s needed as opposed to blanketing the field and pouring on gallons of fertilizer,” Selep said.

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00June 14th, 2019|

CA Citrus Growers Work Hard to Prevent HLB Devastation

Learning From the Florida Industry as to How Bad it Can Be

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The severe effects of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease on Florida citrus is cause for California growers to take important preventative measures to ensure the safety of their trees. Keith Watkins, vice president of outside operations for Bee Sweet Citrus, has seen the damage firsthand and has been hard at work to protect his trees.

“I’ve been to Florida, and I’ve seen how devastating the disease can be,” he said. “We have to spend money now to basically prevent that from happening to us.”

There are currently around 1100 trees that have tested positive for HLB in the Orange County and Anaheim-Garden Grove areas, but they are mainly backyard citrus trees. Luckily, Watkins said that the disease has not yet been traced in commercial operations.

Keeping HLB out of commercial growth is the biggest challenge growers face. There is not yet a cure for the disease, but according to Watkins, growers can help prevent it from reaching their crops by staying on top of killing psyllids when spotted. “We have to stay diligent. Our future really is maintaining a psyllid free population,” he said.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00June 4th, 2019|

Western Growers Statement on California DPR Ban on Chlorpyrifos

Tom Nassif: CA Farmers Face the Most Stringent Regulations in the World

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers

In response to the recent announcement that the California Department of Pesticide Residue (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“California farmers are universally committed to the safety of their food, the health of their workers and communities, and the sustainability of their land. At every turn, they strive to achieve efficiencies in their use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides and seek to minimize both the human and environmental impacts of these inputs.

immigration reform

Tom Nassif

“California farmers also face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, one that often limits their access to many of the tools still available to farmers elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries, including certain types of pesticides. Indeed, over the last 20 years, California regulatory actions have removed several of the most important crop protection tools farmers rely on to fight pests and diseases.

“With … [the] announcement that DPR will initiate the cancellation of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely studied and globally approved insecticides, California farmers now stand to lose yet another arrow in their quiver—without effective and ready replacement tools—making their quest to grow the safest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world even more difficult.

“California farmers are resilient, but the long-term viability of our farms in California depends on proper support from the Administration and renewed cooperation of the state’s regulatory agencies, especially in light of the many other unique and expensive regulations that place California farmers at a growing competitive disadvantage.”

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00May 22nd, 2019|
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