One big plus in being a large agricultural trade association is that you often have the opportunity to interact with the very people who are regulating your industry.

During these times, industry has a chance to display to the regulators just what it is that we do. The truth is that many of these government regulators have very few opportunities to get out of the office and actually learn about and experience life in the agricultural fields and talk to the growers that they have a responsibility to regulate.

During my tenure here at WPHA, I have gone on numerous field trips with officials from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and other governmental agencies, the first being in 2006 when I attended a field trip with then-DPR chief Mary-Ann Warmerdam and a bus load of DPR officials and ag representatives who were taken to creeks in Roseville to witness the effects of household pesticides on the urban landscape. The tour focused on fertilizer and pesticide runoff into local streams. More precisely, the tour was about how pyrethrins – chemicals with urban usages in eradicating household pests, weeds, and even shampoos used on pets – were impacting the ecosystem of small aquatic organisms and fish. DPR officials later said they learned a lot of useful information on the tour.

Additionally, my nonprofit organization – the Western Plant Health Association – helped organize a field trip in 2009 for the staffs of DPR and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The main objective of the tour was to provide in-field insight to those department and agency staffswho might have limited experience regarding crop protection, farming systems and onsite agricultural procedures – all in the spirit of enlightening them about the industry that they regulate and the impacts of the regulations they create on everyday farming operations. Furthermore, a couple of years ago, WPHA member Trical Inc., a company that largely works in the fumigation process in commercial crop production, hosted DPR, CDFA members, and other state and commodity industry groups to a field demonstration showing the actual tarping process done in the application of fumigants.