Ag Today December 1, 2016

Pesticides hearing in Salinas Thursday

Roberto M. Robledo , The Salinas Californian5:16 p.m. PST November 30, 2016

The controversial use of pesticides in agricultural fields near schools is the focus of a public hearing set in Salinas on Thursday.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation added a hearing in Monterey County in response to numerous requests to be heard on proposed new regulations.

The public has until Dec. 9 to weigh in on the issue.

The CDPR’s proposed regulation would give more protections to children when pesticides are applied close to schools and child daycare facilities.

The proposed rules:

  • Ban growers from making certain pesticide applications within a quarter mile of schools or childcare facilities, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. This ban applies to any application by aircraft, sprinkler or spraying, dusting or fumigation.
  • Allows some pesticide applications at the above time and days but only with proper advance notification to a school, childcare facility and county agricultural commissioner.


Meanwhile, a pilot project based in Monterey County that will experiment with a computerized pesticides warning system and information center for schools, parents and other stakeholders has yet to get off the ground.

Announced last spring, the county agricultural commissioner and involved agencies hoped to have the project up and running by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. However, the launch remains months away.

“Many K-12 schools and child daycare facilities are located near farming operations, and increasingly teachers, parents, and the public want to know whether the chemicals being applied could adversely affect them,” the CDPR said in a press release.

The proposed regulation is expected to “provide an extra measure of protection to these sites from the risk of short-term pesticide exposure. The regulation would also provide advance notification when certain pesticides are applied, so as to increase communication between growers and schools or child daycare facilities, and help them in responding to inquiries and potential incidents.”

Once approved, the new regulation would take effect in September 2017.

A locally based group, Safe Ag Safe Schools, is planning a demonstration at Thursday’s public hearing. The group urges the state to strengthen the proposed regulations by including full-time, one-mile safety zones around schools. The proposed rules call for a quarter-mile zone.

The hearing begins at 6 p.m. at the Salinas Sports Complex, 1034 N. Main St. Salinas.