California Farmworkers, Farmers and Regulators Join Forces to Limit Pesticide Drift in Central Valley

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Bilingual Spray Safe Program Intended to Empower Workers and Improve Communications to Ensure Greater Pesticide Safety for People and Pollinators

It is a very positive sign that the agricultural community is coming together to encourage the safe application of pesticides through education

Nearly 250 Central Valley farmers and farmworkers converged on the Fresno County fairgrounds today to participate in Spray Safe, a stewardship program that promotes effective prevention of accidental pesticide drift from fields, the Western Plant Health Association announced today.

Joined by prominent elected officials and high-ranking regulators, participants received training in how to calibrate their equipment, properly use respirators, deal with hazardous materials and protect such pollinators as bees. It also focused on making sure all involved in pesticide applications are effectively communicating and working in concert, said Spray Safe officials.

“Spray Safe reinforces California’s current pesticide regulations and requirements, which are already some of the toughest limits in the world,” said Renee Pinel, the President & CEO of the Western Plant Health Association, which was a sponsor of the event. “More importantly, the program focuses on how to improve communication among all those involved in the pesticide application process.”

There are many steps and entities involved in any pesticide application, she said.

“We don’t need more regulations, we just need to make sure farmers, farmworkers and regulators are all effectively communicating with one another to ensure those regulations are being followed,” said Pinel.

“The best thing about the Spray Safe program is that it empowers thousands of workers to speak out if they have any concerns about a pesticide,” said Hernan Hernandez, the Executive Director of the California Farmworker Foundation, a Delano-based organization dedicated to creating a better future for the state’s farmworkers. “Farmworkers need to know what to do in an emergency. It speaks volumes that today’s event was conducted in both Spanish and English.”

The event drew a number of high-ranking officials and representatives, including
California, State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger); Michael Stoker, Administrator, EPA Region 9; Jesse Cuevas Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, as well as County Agricultural Commissioners.

“California has the nation’s strictest pesticide regulations, but it remains DPR’s highest priority to make sure all Californians are aware of the rules and are protected from potential harm,” said Jesse Cuevas Chief Deputy Director of DPR. “It is a very positive sign that the agricultural community is coming together to encourage the safe application of pesticides through education and improved communications to make sure our communities are protected.”

Today’s event is one of many such Spray Safe classes conducted over the years.

“Programs like Spray Safe have trained thousands of people,” said Bill Hume, with Simplot Grower Solutions who helped lead the worker safety classes. “We always want to make sure we continue to keep farmers and farmworkers up to date on the latest technology, regulations and best practices.”

A second Spray Safe event is scheduled for January 16 at the Tulare-Kings International Agri-Center in Tulare.

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