Higher Caution Will Be Required when Spraying Near Schools

New Regs on Pesticide Spraying Near Schools Begin Jan. 1

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

Starting Jan. 1, new regulations will prohibit pesticide spraying near schools and licensed child day-care facilities within a quarter mile Monday through Friday between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

In addition, most dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, will also be prohibited during this time.

California Ag Today spoke with Milton O’Haire, Ag Commissioner for Stanislaus County, about these new regulations.

“With these new regulations and even with our permit conditions, growers have been restricted as far as spraying around schools,” O’Haire said. “It’s making it harder for growers to actually practice agriculture because their windows for applying crop protection has shrunk even more.”

Milton O’Haire

“Previously, a grower could actually start spraying at 5:00 p.m. if school’s out already, or if the school was on a half-day, an operator could start spraying in the afternoon. These new regulation will prohibit that,” O’Haire said.

“The new regulations are slightly different than what we’ve had in place for a number of years. Since 2010, we’ve had permit conditions on all of our restricted materials permits, which are more acute or toxic materials where there was already a one-quarter mile restriction around schools. And during that time, we really haven’t had any violations or any incidents, so the growers have been following that very well,” O’Haire explained.

The new regulations target all crop protection materials, both restricted or not.

Growers will have to be more diligent about their pesticide applications and continue to monitor the spray operation to prevent drift.

“They have to be on top of the pests so they catch them very quickly, because if you have a pest infestation where before you might have been able to go out and start spraying the next day, you may not be able to do that,” O’Haire said.

“If you’re near a K-12 school, and it’s Monday for instance, now you’re going to have to wait for a window to open or come in at nighttime to actually spray,” he explained. “It is going to affect those growers that have crops near schools, and we have more than 200 growers that are going to be affected in our county.”

Previous drafts of these new regulations required parents to be notified anytime a grower would be spraying pesticides near K-12 schools or licensed daycare centers.

“There was a modification of that. What has changed in the draft regulations: now the grower must notify the school annually with a list of what would be applied during the year,” O’Haire said.

If a material is to be used that was not on the list, then the school must be notified 48 hours before application. The material must be added to the list at the school as well as notifying the Ag Commissioner.

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Spray Safe Meeting Nov. 17 in Modesto

Event Organized by Stanislaus County Farm Bureau

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Wayne Zipser, executive director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, announced the Farm Bureau will hold a Safe Spray and Safety Event on November 17, at the Modesto Junior College’s West Campus Ag Pavilion, located at 2201 Blue Gum Ave. in Modesto. The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau is a non-profit, volunteer membership organization that provides many programs like Spray Safe to assist its members and to educate the general public.

“The Spray Safe meeting will be a big event,” Zipser said, “not only because will it cover how to safely apply pesticides, but also provide tractor safety training, [pesticide application] mask fit testing and physicals [if needed for mask fit testing] for farm employees.”

“Registration opens at 7 AM,” Zipser explained. “A grower panel will start the day at 8 AM with a discussion of the safety and procedure challenges encountered by some of our folks who do pesticide applications. Given the new rules for pesticide applications around schools and preschools, we want to hear how they cope with and mitigate these new challenges.”

The Safe Spray Meeting will also feature a trade show. Attendance is free, courtesy of event sponsors, and lunch is provided.

Additional topics will include: drift prevention, school notification requirements, calibration, sexual harassment prevention, equipment safety and heat illness prevention. The meeting also offers 4 hours of Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Continuing Education (CE) credit.

The all-Ag committee coordinating the event includes the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, the Ag Commissioner’s Office, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE).

For more information, contact the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau at 209-522-7278.

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