Statewide pesticide ban restricts use near schools and daycares

The ban applies to multiple pesticide applications

FRESNO, Calif. - Starting Jan. 1, farmers and growers with fields near close to schools or daycare facilities will no longer be able to use pesticides for a 12-hour period on weekdays.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced the new regulation Tuesday. It affects all pesticide applications by aircraft, sprinklers, sprayers and fumigants -- none of it can be used within a quarter of a mile close to schools or daycares on Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The restriction also includes most dust and powder applications, like sulfur.

Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, describes the regulation as a way to "make it more difficult for a farmer to really farm."

He adds pesticides are needed to deal with Central Valley weather.

"We have real hot seasons, a time in which predators just really break out and start causing damage. If we don't have ways to control them, the fruit is going to be damaged and the trees are going to be damaged," Cunha said.

The DPR's director, Brian Leahy, said farmers have been very cautious with pesticide use over the years. However, he said your kids can never be too safe.

"What we've done here is add a new additional layer of protection that will make it much more difficult to have a drift incident," Leahy said.

Cunha believes this ban is just going to cause unnecessary headache.

"We're just going to have to change cropping programs and some of our applications are going to be totally different," he said.

Along with the ban, farmers and growers will also have to provide annual notifications to schools and county agricultural commissioners detailing the pesticides they expect to use in the upcoming year.

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