By Brad Hooker, Agri-Pulse

The California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association has shared “serious concerns” over a dramatic decline in its relationship with the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Outgoing CACASA President Lisa Herbert on Friday sent DPR Director Julie Henderson and CalEPA Secretary Yana Garcia a lengthy list of incidents and concerns along with several requests, which aim to steer that relationship back into a positive direction.

Herbert said commissioners have received no acknowledgement for substantial progress in building diversity, equity and inclusion and argued that DPR has instead misrepresented the state of enforcement, describing it as lacking or nonexistent.

“All too often DPR has created situations in which CACs are expected to take responsibility for situations beyond our control or entirely outside the scope of our authority or responsibility,” wrote Herbert.

She pointed to a beta testing program for a controversial pesticide notification initiative and pilot projects for the administration’s sustainable pest management agenda. She chastised the department for catering to a handful of environmental justice interests and supporting the proliferation of false narratives.

Herbert was disappointed that such problems have eroded commissioners’ confidence and trust in DPR and made it “unnecessarily challenging” for them to do their work. She warned that the system is in peril, as staff turnover hits alarming rates and many are reluctant to take on the burden of rising to commissioner, adding: “Things must change.”

While her term ends this Friday, Herbert pledged to help commissioners overcome the “barriers, hurdles and mounting demands that DPR is creating.”