In 2011, in an effort to more efficiently and accurately capture pesticide use data, a new county-based reporting system, known as CalAgPermits, was created to streamline reporting procedures for pesticide users and upgrade data management capabilities of county departments of agriculture. It also helps county agricultural commissioner’s (CACs), issue restricted materials permits and provides an automated platform for validating and relaying pesticide use reports electronically to DPR.
Pesticide Use Reports
Pesticide reporting has been required in California since 1950. In 1990, California became the first state to require full reporting of agricultural pesticide use. Under the program, all agricultural pesticide use must be reported monthly to county agricultural commissioners, who in turn, report the data to DPR. DPR scientists use the PUR database to review changes in pesticide use. Pesticide use trend analyses can help agencies understand where efforts to promote reduced-risk pest management strategies are succeeding or failing. Information on long-term trends also helps researchers better identify emerging challenges and direct research attention to finding solutions.
The Role of the CAC and Permitting
Permits for pesticide use originated in Imperial County in 1931. The concept of restricted materials was enacted into law in 1950, incorporating permits as a general requirement at the State level. In 1976, the California Attorney General determined that the issuance of county permits was subject to requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and therefore, required an environmental impact report (EIR) for the pesticide permit. The Restricted Materials Permit Program (RMPP) was developed as an alternative program to provide for an abbreviated environmental review procedure that serves as the “functional equivalent” to a full-scale EIR normally required by CEQA. Although the State and the CACs do not need to prepare an EIR, documentation of environmental impacts, mitigation measures, and alternatives are required. The RMPP was designed to meet these requirements. This program required the CACs to issue time specific and site specific permits for the agricultural use of restricted materials. California is the only state with such a pesticide permitting system. CACs are uniquely positioned to do this, with their extensive knowledge of both pesticides and local conditions. Requiring a permit allows CACs to make sure restricted pesticides users prevent harmful effects or use alternatives to the pesticide. determined that the issuance of county permits was Prior to the use of a restricted material, a notice of intent (NOI), must be sent to the CAC at least 24 hours before the scheduled application to provide CAC staff with an opportunity to evaluate the site before the application. CAC staff reviews NOI’s and can disallow the proposed application if conditions warrant or apply extra controls if needed. Additionally, the NOI affords CAC staff the ability to monitor the application as it is taking place.
CAC staff may conduct pre-application site monitoring if they decide that an on-site evaluation is needed to fully assess risk. If the CAC determines that a substantial risk is likely, the commissioner may deny the permit or issue it under the condition that applicators follow site-specific use practices (beyond the label and applicable regulations) to mitigate potential adverse effects.