Spray Safe in Central Valley

Join Forces to Limit Spray Drift in Central Valley

Sponsors include: Western Plant Health Association, California Citrus Mutual, Tulare County Farm Bureau, and Spray Safe 

Bilingual Spray Safe Program Intended to Empower Workers and Improve Communications to Ensure Greater Pesticide Safety for People and Pollinators

By Alexis Silveria, Communication Manager California Citrus Mutual

An estimated 400 Central Valley farmers attended the Tulare-Kings International Agri-Center to participate in Spray Safe, a stewardship program created for and by the agriculture community that promotes effective prevention of accidental pesticide drift from fields, California Citrus Mutual announced today.

Joined by prominent elected officials and high-ranking regulators, participants received training in drift mitigation, pesticide emergencies, and protection for pollinators. It also focused on making sure all involved in pesticide applications are effectively communicating and working in concert, said Spray Safe officials.

“Spray Safe reinforces California’s current pesticide regulations and requirements, which are already some of the toughest in the world,” said Renee Pinel, the President & CEO of the Western Plant Health Association, which was a sponsor of the event.

She said, “more regulations are not necessary, but communications need to improve to make sure farmers, farmworkers and regulators are all effectively communicating to ensure those regulations are being followed.”

“The safe use of pesticides is a top priority for the citrus industry,” said Casey Creamer President & CEO of California Citrus Mutual, another major sponsor. “Educational events such as Spray Safe ensure the safety of our employees and the surrounding communities. We are proud to be one of the many agricultural groups coming together for the protection of our farms, employees, and communities.”

Creamer underscored that Spray Safe is “an example of the agriculture industry acknowledging a problem and implementing a solution proactively.”

“The best thing about the Spray Safe program is that it empowers thousands of workers to speak out if they have any concerns about a pesticide,” said Hernan Hernandez, the Executive Director of the California Farmworker Foundation, a Delano-based organization dedicated to creating a better future for the state’s farmworkers. “Farmworkers need to know what to do in an emergency. It speaks volumes that today’s event was conducted in both Spanish and English.”

The event drew several high-ranking officials and representatives, including

California Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Val Dolcini, Supervisor Kuyler Crocker, as well as County Agricultural Commissioners.

“California has the nation’s strictest pesticide regulations, but it remains DPR’s highest priority to make sure all Californians are aware of the rules and are protected from potential harm,” said Val Dolcini, Director of DPR. “Pesticides touch our air, water, and land. Today and every day, we’ll continue to ensure that these tools are used in a manner that’s both safe and smart.”

The event is one of many such Spray Safe classes conducted over the years.

“Programs like Spray Safe have trained thousands of people,” said Bill Hume, with Simplot Grower Solutions who helps lead the worker safety classes. “We always want to make sure we continue to keep farmers and farmworkers up to date on the latest technology, regulations and best practices.”

When Spraying, Avoid Water, Bees and High Wind

Spraying Safely Prevents Major Issues

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Safe spraying is an important topic. Making sure that crop protection spray materials stay on target is at the interest of all growers, Tim Pelican, Agricultural Commissioner for San Joaquin County, explained recently to California Ag Today.

“We want to make sure that we are not applying sprays to water bodies, especially standing water or running water,” Pelican emphasized, “Especially because it will run off into other larger bodies of water. If you look at any product label, it will tell you not to apply to standing water. The scenario will show up in our water coalition’s work reports.”

“Drift in the Delta can be an issue because of the high winds out there,” he explained. “So, we must avoid spraying during high winds to avoid drift issues. Another issue we have is when blast sprayer operators do not turn their rigs off at the end of a row. So they come out and make their turn, and then we receive complaints about vehicles being sprayed or something like that.”

“Spray safety hazards have been coming from a variety of materials,” Pelican reported. “We have had issues with people using sulfur, copper or something similar; it could be any material, so spray safety is always important.”

“When it comes to spraying in San Joaquin County,” Pelican said, “We treat more than just almonds. Cherry crops require sprays as well. Melon crops are big users of apiaries, so we aim to make sure that people have as much information as they can so that they can make wise application choices.”

“Another suggestion is not spraying during the day when bees are active, even if the label states that it is okay, do not apply.”

Kern County Pest Control Advisor Awarded CAPCA Member of the Year

Jeff Rasmussen Honored at CAPCA

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

At the 40th Annual Meeting of the California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA) in Anaheim this week, Jeff Rasmussen, a pest control advisor with Crop Production Services in Kern County was recognized as the CAPCA Member of the Year.

“I’m humbled, it’s an awesome feeling to be presented with an award by your peers, and they appreciate all the efforts that we as a team have accomplished,” said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen is among a small group of PCAs who spearheaded the important Spray Safe program, which was created in Kern County in 2006 by a group of Kern County farmers and PCAs. Spray Safe was designed to reduce spray drift, enhance worker safety, and protect public health through more effective communications among farmers about pending and ongoing pesticide applications.

Rasmussen and the others dedicated time to solve a problem, “and since then we have stuck together and resolved the problem of spray drift. Proactive involvement can make a difference.”

“It’s the ‘Three C’s’: collaborate, connect, and commit, that has been our focus point. It’s a matter of the industry stepping up and taking responsibility, and continuing to own and protect that space,” said Rasmussen.

Ultimately, according to the Spray Safe website, the goal of the program is to instill increased resolve among farmers to take every precaution necessary to ensure public safety – this is particularly so when it comes to protecting farm workers and field crews.

At the heart of Spray Safe is a checklist.

The photo shows Jess Rasmussen, left, and his family at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, following his honor.