DPR’s Dolcini to Focus on Three Pillars

Leadership, Collaboration, and People are the focus of Val Docini

Second of a series from DPR’s Director Val Docini. 
By Jesse Rojas, Editor

Val Dolcini, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, will focus on three pillars while leading DPR. The pillars represent organization and leadership principles that will allow DPR to continue to advance its mission of protecting public health and the environment through the careful and appropriate regulation of pesticides.

First Pillar: A Focus on IPM

“I’ll be using integrated pest management as a means of organizing the work of the department and as the foundation for closer collaboration with our stakeholders, such as the Almond Board. Using IPM principles, DPR can reinforce its role as a trusted leader in the regulation of pest management tools for urban and rural communities alike,” Dolcini said. “This will allow California to become significantly less reliant on chemical means as the first line of defense against agricultural and household pests.”

Dolcini stressed that the industry would continue to deploy appropriate chemical pesticides. “Chemical pesticides are an essential part of IPM, but we also need to include more biological controls, new cultural practices, softer chemistries, and safer alternatives into our arsenal,” he said. “To get there, we will continue to streamline our internal processes for approving these tools, and to create more demand for these tools in the value chain.”

“I realize that this is a tall order, but we’re at a pivotal point in the evolution of pest management in California. Changing pest pressures, increased urbanization, the desire for sustainably produced food, the need to seek and implement safer alternatives among many other issues all drive the demand to reexamined our views on pest management, Dolcini explained. “I think that we need to be in this conversation with the end in mind, and I commit to an ongoing dialogue about the future of pest management with folks from the agricultural, landscape, and structural pest community along with conservationists, worker health advocates, growers and others,”

Second Pillar: A Focus on Partnerships
“My second pillar focuses on partnerships with all stakeholder groups. DPRs work and mission must include the voices of all Californians. I want DPR to be a place where all stakeholders, ideas, and interests are welcome, not just to those who seek to register pesticides, but to those who are concerned about the impacts of those pesticides in their communities.

Dolcini is traveling to every corner of the state, to engage with Californians on pest management issues. “I’ll hold regular stakeholder meetings with anyone who seeks me out, and I look for opportunities to join my colleagues at DPR in initiatives that support our mission of protecting public health and the environment,” he said. “This is a dialogue that must be ongoing, and not just happen when a crisis occurs because trust is essential to successful engagement on pest management issues. Building trust takes time and effort. I believe that these partnerships, this engagement, this dialogue with agricultural groups will lead to stronger relationships and more creative solutions.”

Third Pillar: A Focus on the People of DPR.

“I believe that a department of government can only be successful in fulfilling its mandate when its employees are highly engaged. The leaders must be open, collaborative, and capable of articulating a vision that people can identify with; and where the workplace is known for mutually respectful and highly ethical behavior on the part of all of its employees,” explained Dolcini.

“I believe that the basis of DPR’s success is found in its employees. It’s my job to ensure that I’m responsive to their needs and concerns,” he said. “We need to provide more training opportunities for our future leaders and ensure that our internal and external recruitment efforts reflect the changing face of California.”

Dolcini said DPR also needs to be careful stewards of our resources, but at the same time manage the department’s affairs with an eye or the future. “We are investing in our people, our programs, and the systems that support them. Working towards these broad goals will lead to increased staff morale, bring more opportunities for professional development, and innovative, effective, and thoughtful public policy solutions,” he noted.

“In short, my vision for DPR is it a high-performing department of government that relies on a well trained and highly engaged workforce that relies on robust partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, the best available science, sound management practices, and the ability to see around the corner at the possibilities that the future holds,” he said

“I have always believed in my career that when people of goodwill come together towards a common purpose, great things can and do happen,” said Dolcini.

DPR Chief Val Dolcini Speaks About His Dept.

Dolcini Describes His Department

First in a Series from his Presentation at the Almond Board Conf.
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Department of Pesticide Regulation is uniquely positioned to serve the varied interest of California, noted Val Dolcini, DPR Director, appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in Oct. 2019.

“For those that don’t know about us, it’s a department where science management and policy intersect to better protect public health and the environment, and hopefully to find common ground on some of the most challenging regulatory, legal, and political issues facing California,” he said.

Dolcini said DPR is a department that’s always in the crosshairs, always under the microscope, and often at the center of controversy, whether the decisions are large or small. “But, it’s also a department full of dedicated public servants, highly trained scientists, talented policy experts, hardworking attorneys, and many others at every level of the organization,” he said.

“In my first few months at DPR, we’ve worked on issues ranging from the first-ever cancellation of a widely used pesticide, issues related to cannabis enforcement, legislation that would ban certain rodenticides,” he said. “We have also focused on several serious pesticide drift incidents in the Central Valley, multi-agency conversations about endangered pollinators, and more trips to the Capitol than I thought possible.”

“So suffice it to say, we are a very busy department of government, and my colleagues and I aren’t simply counting the days, but, in the words of Muhammad Ali, we’re making those days count. We’re continuing to build a culture of customer-oriented accountability in every branch, every office, and at every level of DPR,” explained Dolcini.

Dolcini gave examples: “In a typical year, DPR receives and processes about 5,000 different submissions. This includes new product registrations and amendments to currently registered products. The submissions may be evaluated by multiple branches within DPR, before registration is granted or an amendment is accepted.”

This process is complex, and, as a result, DPR is constantly looking for ways to improve the process and provide that customer service to registrants. They are working to improve process efficiencies in each of the evaluation stations for these submissions.

“The turnaround time at the chemistry station for new products has gone from about a month to just several days,” said Dolcini. “We’ve also doubled the staff at our ecotoxicology station, and we’re starting to see significant reductions in the backlogs there.”

Dolcini also said that DPR is trying to aggressively re-launch the electronic data reporting system, which will now be known as CALPEST, California Pesticide Electronic Submission Tracking. This will allow for a more streamlined review of these submissions by DPR staff around the department. “Hopefully, it will help identify gaps in the submission process early in the process so that we don’t have to go back to registrants, asking for additional information.

New DPR Chief Along with Other Directors

Val Dolcini is New DPR Chief

Other DPR Directors Announced

Val Dolcini, 56, of Sacramento, has been appointed director at the Department of Pesticide Regulation, where he has served as acting director since June 2019. Dolcini has been deputy secretary for agriculture at the California Environmental Protection Agency since 2019.

He was president and chief executive officer at Pollinator Partnership from 2017 to 2019. He was an administrator for the Farm Service Agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2014 to 2017, and state executive director for California for the Farm Service Agency from 2009 to 2014.

Dolcini was a senior manager at Accenture LLC from 2004 to 2009, director of policy in the Office of Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante from 2003 to 2004 and deputy legislative secretary in the Office of Governor Gray Davis from 2001 to 2002. He held several positions in the Office of Congressman Vic Fazio from 1995 to 1999, including legislative assistant and district chief of staff, and was legislative assistant in the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi from 1994 to 1995. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Golden Gate University School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $177,516.

Jesse Cuevas, 32, of Sacramento, has been appointed chief deputy director at the Department of Pesticide Regulation, where he has been assistant director in the Pesticide Programs Division since 2017. He was director of legislation and policy at the Department of Pesticide Regulation from 2015 to 2017 and legislative director in the Office of California State Assemblymember Henry T. Perea from 2010 to 2015. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $179,868.

Raybon Johnson, 53, of Tehachapi, has been appointed warden of California State Prison, Lancaster, where he has been acting warden since 2018 and was chief deputy warden from 2017 to 2018. He served in multiple positions at the California City Correctional Facility from 2013 to 2017, including associate warden, correctional administrator and correctional captain. He held multiple positions at California Correctional Institution, Tehachapi from 1993 to 2013, including lieutenant, sergeant and correctional officer. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,024.

Jared Lozano, 44, of El Dorado Hills, has been appointed warden of California Medical Facility, Vacaville, where he has been acting warden since 2018. Lozano was chief deputy warden at Folsom State Prison from 2015 to 2018 and a correctional administrator at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Headquarters in 2015 and from 2012 to 2013.

Lozano was acting chief deputy warden at California Health Care Facility, Stockton from 2013 to 2015 and acting correctional administrator and facility captain at Deuel Vocational Institution from 2014 to 2015 and from 2008 to 2012. He was a lieutenant and captain at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Headquarters from 2006 to 2008, a lieutenant at California State Prison, Solano from 2004 to 2006, a sergeant at Deuel Vocational Institution from 2000 to 2004 and a correctional officer at California State Prison, Solano from 1997 to 2000. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,024. Lozano is a Republican.

Marion Spearman, 56, of Janesville, has been appointed associate director of general population male facilities in the Division of Adult Institutions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Spearman has been warden of High Desert State Prison since 2016. He was warden at Correctional Training Facility, Soledad from 2012 to 2016, where he was chief deputy warden from 2011 to 2012.

Spearman held multiple positions at Pleasant Valley State Prison from 1994 to 2011, including the associate warden, correctional administrator, facility captain, lieutenant and sergeant. He was a correctional officer at Mule Creek State Prison from 1987 to1994. Spearman earned a Master of Science degree in criminology from California State University, Fresno. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,004. Spearman is registered without party preference.

Tammatha Foss, 50, of Soledad, has been appointed associate director of reception centers in the Division of Adult Institutions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She has been acting warden at Salinas Valley State Prison since 2018, where she was chief deputy warden in 2018.

Foss was chief deputy warden at High Desert State Prison from 2016 to 2018. She was a chief in the Program Support Unit at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Headquarters from 2014 to 2016 and correctional administrator in the Division of Adult Institutions from 2013 to 2014. Foss was a business manager and community resource manager at San Quentin State Prison from 2009 to 2013. She served in multiple positions at Pelican Bay State Prison, including procurement officer, budget analyst and correctional officer from 1996 to 2009. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,004.

DPR Has Big Funding for Pest Managment Program

The Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR’s) 2020 Pest Management Research Grant solicitation is now available

See the Grant here: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/grants/research/index.htm

This year, the Pest Management Research Grant Program will allocate:

1-   $2,100,000 to fund projects that identify, develop, and implement safer, practical, and sustainable pest management alternatives to Chlorpyrifos. DPR will consider proposals requesting $150,000 to $500,000.

2-   $500,000 to fund projects that develop methods or practices to reduce risks associated with pesticides of high regulatory concern and/or are considered to high-risk and which can be incorporated into an IPM system. DPR will consider proposals requesting $50,000 to $500,000.

Concept proposals must be submitted by 5:00 PM PST on Monday, October 7, 2019.

Concept application must be downloaded from DPR’s Research Grants webpage, here:


A Proposal Package will be provided to applicants invited to submit full proposals.

Completed Concept and full Proposal applications must be submitted to the following email address: dprpmgrants@cdpr.ca.gov

If you know groups or individuals who may be interested in applying for a Pest Management Research Grant, we encourage you to pass on this information. 

 For additional information on the Pest Management Research Grant Program, please visit http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/grants/research/index.htm

If you have any questions, please contact Atefeh Nik at 916-445-2509 or Atefeh.nik@cdpr.ca.gov or John Gerlach at 916-445-3909 or John.Gerlach@cdpr.ca.gov.

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 

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.

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.”

CCM Statement on Chlorpyrifos Ban

Flawed Data Forcing Cancellation

News Release From California Citrus Mutual

Recently, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that they are going to begin the cancellation process of chlorpyrifos. The statement cites scientific findings that chlorpyrifos poses serious public health and environmental risks to vulnerable communities.SaveOurCitrus Logo

“The decision to ban chlorpyrifos is not surprising given the significant pressure from anti-pesticide groups, active legislative proposals, regulatory proceedings, and ongoing court battles,” said CCM President Casey Creamer. “However, this decision relies heavily on an evaluation that was significantly flawed and based upon unrealistic modeling scenarios that are not verifiable by actual results in DPR’s own air monitoring network.”

“California Citrus Mutual and our member growers stand by science that is sound, that properly evaluates risks and puts forward appropriate safeguards to protect ourselves, our employees, and our surrounding communities. We are committed to safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos and other crop protection tools.”

“The process for which this chemical was evaluated was purposely exaggerated to achieve the desired outcome and jeopardizes the scientific credibility of the Department of Pesticide Regulation. This decision sets a terrible precedent for future evaluations and creates a chilling effect on companies planning on making significant investments to bring new products to the market in California.”

“The citrus industry is fighting feverishly to protect itself from the deadly citrus disease, Huanglongbing,” Creamer continued. “In order to do so, we must have the necessary tools in the toolbox for an effective Integrated Pest Management program.”

“The once mighty citrus-producing state of Florida has lost 70% of its production due to this disease, which is expanding exponentially in residential citrus trees in Southern California at this very moment. While our commercial growers will remain vigilant, it is vital that our policymakers recognize the seriousness of the threat and ensure sound scientific procedures are followed.”

“California Citrus Mutual will continue to be actively engaged in the regulatory processes around the cancellation decision and will continue to explore all potential remedies to allow the safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos.”

2017 Produce Samples Survey Show Safeness For Consumers

Tests Show Low or No Pesticide Levels in Most Fruits and Vegetables in California

By Charlotte Fadipe, California DPR

Once again, tests showed that the vast majority of fresh produce collected by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) met national pesticide residue standards. During its 2017 survey, DPR found 96 percent of all samples had no detectable pesticide residues or were below levels allowed by the U.S. EPA.

The findings are included in DPR’s just released 2017 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report.

“DPR carries out an extensive sampling of pesticides on fresh produce, and once again it shows that California consumers can be confident about eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Brian Leahy, Director of DPR. “California growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards.”

Brian Leahy

The 2017 report is based on a year-round collection of 3,695 samples of produce from 28 different countries, including those labeled as “organic.” DPR scientists sampled produce from various grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food distribution centers, and other outlets throughout California. The produce is tested for more than 400 types of pesticides using state-of-the-art equipment operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets levels for the maximum amounts of pesticide residue that can be present on fruits and vegetables, called a “tolerance.” It is a violation if any residue exceeds the tolerance for the specific fruit or vegetable, or if a pesticide is detected for which no tolerance has been established.

California Specific Results

More than a third of the country’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2017 DPR found:

-About 25 percent of all produce samples tested were labeled as Californian-grown,

-About 95 percent of these samples had no residues on them or were within the legal levels,

-About 5 percent of California samples had illegal residues, including kale and snow peas. These are pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity. However, none of those residues were at a level that would pose a health risk to consumers.

Other highlights from the 2017 report include:

-41 percent of all produce samples had no detectable residues at all,

-55 percent had residues detected within the legal level.

-4 percent of all the samples had pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity.

Pest Management is Essential

The Positives of Pest Management

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There’s a case to be made for both organic and conventional farming, but make no mistake that they both have the same intention: safe food for human consumption. Few people know this better than Brian Leahy, chief of the Department of Pesticide Regulation in California, one of the 16 agencies under the umbrella of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

There are certain precautions that all farmers need to take to ensure our produce is of the highest quality, one of which is the use of pesticides. Leahy explained that yes, even organic growers require pesticides to protect their crop.

“They’re very different, and they go through a process,” he further added.

“When your food leaves the farm, it goes through a lot of pest management,” Leahy continued, “We’re doing it every day, so let’s acknowledge that it’s there.”

The fact is, everyone uses pesticides, whether it be in the grocery store or our very own homes, and if they are not properly managed it can lead to trouble.

“We’re all in this pest management together. Let’s start putting the resources into it so that we do it in a way we think we want,” Leahy concluded.

To find out how DPR regulates pesticide use, go here.