California's New Rules on Pesticide Use


Starting on January 1, 2018, Californian farmers found using certain pesticides in the vicinity—within 0.25 miles—of schools or daycares will be fined up to $5000. According to the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, the new rules are meant to enhance the safety of students, teachers, and other people within the compounds of the mentioned institutions. However, the provision is only enforceable from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Brian Leahy, a fellow at the department, is convinced that the rules cater to the needs of both students and teachers.

Statistics from the state Department of Pesticide Regulation imply that over 50 Californians have suffered the effects of toxic pesticides that accidentally landed on school compounds since 2005. Charlotte Fadipe, a spokeswoman for the department, notes that close to 24 students and teachers of Coachella Valley High School, Riverside County, are the most recent victims of pesticides deposited in the wrong place. She explains that the incident was occasioned by the wind which flew pesticides from a grower right into the school’s compound.

As expected, farmers are not amused with the new regulations. Most of them share the opinion that schools and other institutions are increasingly moving out of towns because of the high cost of land. They move to farms where they find farmers already tilling the land. Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, shares the same sentiments. While he does not dispute that fact that pesticides can be harmful and that children need protection from them, Blodgett is of the opinion that regulators ought to find a long lasting solution regarding where schools are established.

Part of the rules indicates it is mandatory for farmers to annually inform schools, other institutions with children, and the county agriculture offices about the type of agrochemicals they plan on using around them. California has over four thousand schools, and farmers are required to identify the schools and daycares in their area.

It is not the first time that such news is hitting the headlines in California. Some Californian counties have successfully implemented the rule; apparently, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation took a leaf out of the counties in deciding that the rules should apply to the whole state.

California appears to be keen on the safety of its residents. Gov. Jerry Brown is among the leaders concerned with climate change, and he has taken measures to reverse the same.


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