Western Growers has provided comments on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) proposed design elements for its statewide Pesticide Application Notification System.
In 2021-2022, California’s state budget allocated $10 million to the DPR to begin the development of a statewide system that provides information to the public about pesticides being used in their areas. DPR is in the initial development phase of the statewide system and is incorporating critical input from community members, farmers and other stakeholders. Below are a few critical highlights from WGs comments and recommendations:
Notification System Portal
WG expects many who participate in the future notification system will be unfamiliar with DPR’s regulatory programs and the steps taken to protect public health and the environment from pesticide applications. Recipients participating in the notifications should receive additional background information to put notifications into context so they can be properly informed. This information should include pesticide registration requirements prior to use; licenses required by professional applicators; regulatory reviews, approvals and conditions; and risk mitigation measures. When recipients receive notifications without context, they’re likely to incorrectly assume that they’re being exposed to pesticides at levels that present a health risk.
Notification Oversight and Adjustment
DPR has not established clear objectives for the pilot programs, nor indicated how it will determine whether it has achieved those objectives. In addition, for the public right to know about pesticide applications, WG recommends DPR should indicate how the program will benefit the notification recipients as a first step. The program should also include performance metrics and other data to ensure the program is performing as intended without disrupting current practices.
Program Scope and Area of Notification
WG agrees with the DPR that the notification should not identify the specific locations of pesticide applications to prevent abuses of the notification system, which may include targeting of individual growers by anti-pesticide organizations, trespassers on grower property and other means of delaying or preventing legal pesticide applications.
Anticipated Users and Access to Notification
WG recommends an opt-in notification system. This will help ensure that only individuals who are interested in receiving notifications will receive them. An opt-in system will also help to prevent desensitization of serial notifications.
WG doesn’t believe the DPR’s proposal to provide notification at least 24 hours prior to scheduled applications is feasible and does not work with the current Notice of Intent (NOI) system. Approval of a NOI doesn’t guarantee that a restricted material will be applied on a certain date and time and could mislead participants of the notification system. WG recommends that the proposed notification system should be designed to integrate with the existing system.
The full letter can be read here.