Throughout the year, our office conducts a variety of inspections to assure that growers, pest control businesses, government agencies and others are meeting their requirements under the law. Our primary goal during inspections is to see that workers and the environment are appropriately protected from any possible adverse impacts from pesticides. Proper licensing and registration of pest control businesses, pest control advisors, pest control dealers and farm labor contractors are also assessed during inspections. Agricultural Biologists perform random pesticide application, mix/load and fieldworker safety inspections. Records inspections of growers, businesses, agencies and others are generally scheduled in advance. If non-compliances are discovered during the course of inspections, appropriate follow-up steps which may include compliance and enforcement actions, are taken.
Our office performs various types of pesticide-related investigations. When there is the possibility that someone has become ill or injured due to an exposure to a pesticide, an investigation will be conducted by a Biologist to determine if any violations occurred. A report of the investigation will be completed and sent on to California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation for analysis. Other types of investigations include cases where pesticides are suspected to have caused environmental and/or property damage. All pesticide-related complaints from the public are investigated and documented.
Various levels of follow-up actions are employed when non-compliances are discovered during inspections and investigations. Our office has always fostered a compliance through education strategy to educate the regulated community on its responsibilities under the laws and regulations. When education is not achieving the desired effect, or if the infraction is considered more serious, a compliance or enforcement action may be issued. Compliance actions include letters of warning, notices of violation, and documented compliance interviews. If the case involves serious worker safety violations or environmental or property damage, an enforcement action may be warranted. When an enforcement action is initiated, a Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) is drafted that outlines the violations, and a fine is proposed. Those who are issued a NOPA are afforded due process rights.
Each year prior to the purchase or use of pesticides, growers, businesses and others must obtain or renew an operator identification number (OP ID) or restricted materials permit (RM). Those who need to renew can start the process around the first of December for the upcoming year. An appointment system is in place so we can serve all of our clients as efficiently as possible. At the appointments, contact information, sites, and pesticides are reviewed and updated on OP IDs and RMs. Maps are checked for accuracy and crops statistics information is reviewed. The renewal season is also a great time to inform growers and businesses of changes in regulations and issues that loom on the horizon.
Pesticide use reports are required to be submitted to our office by the tenth day of the month following the month in which the work was performed. Growers and pest control businesses that are applying pesticides for the production of an agricultural commodity generally submit their usage on a Production Monthly Agricultural Pesticide Use Report form. Maintenance Gardeners and Structural Pest Control Businesses submit their information on Monthly Summary Pesticide Use Report (MSPUR) forms. Growers and ag pest control businesses often use the MSPUR form when making applications to non-crop areas on a given agricultural property. Completed forms can be mailed, faxed or dropped off at our office. The fax number for pesticide use reports is (707) 253-4114. However, a simpler and more efficient way to submit the forms is through one of the electronic means that we have in place. Submitting reports electronically saves the time and expense of printing and mailing the forms.
Our office registers different types of pest control businesses as well as farm labor contractors. The following chart lists the business types, the information, documents and fees required for registration. We can also assist you in obtaining the State licenses that are required to establish your business.
Growers are required to have a private applicator certificate if they use restricted materials or have employees that apply pesticides or work in pesticide-treated fields. Growers who pass an exam administered in our office become certified, which allows them to purchase and use California restricted materials and perform required training of pesticide handler and fieldworker employees. The certificate is valid for a three-year period and may be renewed through continuing education or by re-examination.
Each year, the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office sponsors three continuing education classes geared toward providing credits for private applicator certificate holders. In January 2005, our office sponsored a Spanish language session for the first time. State licensees can also earn credits at our continuing education sessions. Since 1998, our office has produced a newsletter, The Ag Rag, which is mailed out in November in anticipation of the coming OP ID and RM permit renewal season. The newsletter contains articles on various PUE issues as well as information on pests and diseases of concern in Napa and weights and measures topics. To keep growers and other pesticide users informed, trainings and informative mailings are utilized when new regulations are implemented.