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.”
“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.