While pesticide spray drift incidents are dramatically down in Kern County, area farm interests continue to meet and discuss ways to further enhance safety. Farmers, pest control advisors and applicators who have an interest in ensuring pesticide spraying safety are holding their sixth annual Spray Safe event on Feb. 4, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kern County Fairgrounds. The Spray Safe program was born in Kern County and created by a group of Kern County farmers to reduce spray drift, enhance worker safety and protect public health through more effective communications.

All members of Kern County agriculture are encouraged to attend this year’s event to hear presentations from representatives of the Kern County Ag Commissioner, Western Growers Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Department of Pesticide Regulation and more about the importance of Spray Safe and its objective to protect farm workers and the public from pesticide exposure. The meeting will also include circuit presentations on a number of safety issues and is available in Spanish as well as English. 

“The Spray Safe program was initiated in Kern County and because of its success is being implemented in other counties throughout the state,” said Dale Nicol, local pest control advisor and chairman of the Kern Drift Prevention Coalition which was formed in 2005. “Spray Safe is a program that encourages farmers to communicate with each other and to be vigilant to help reduce incidents of spray drift,” said Nicol, who noted the annual Spray Safe event is an additional measure to provide continuing education on new and improved practices, technologies and precautions to improve farm safety.

“Spray Safe has most definitely been a factor in the improved record of Kern County agriculture. Since this program was implemented there has been more focus on safety and the result is a marked reduction in drift incidents,” said Kern County Ag Commissioner Ruben Arroyo who noted that since 2006, when Spray Safe was first launched in Kern County, there have been only two spray drift incidents involving human exposure.  “However, we all must remain vigilant to ensure incidents are kept to the absolute minimum,” he said.

“Kern County has shown that through an industry initiative like Spray Safe improvements can occur voluntarily, therefore reducing the need for formal regulatory actions by DPR,” said Mary-Ann Warmerdam, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, which awarded a grant in the amount of $50,000 to assist other counties in adopting Spray Safe.

This year’s Spray Safe event in Kern County is being sponsored by:  AgReserves , Inc., AMVAC Chemical, Bolthouse Farms, Buttonwillow Land & Cattle Co., California Safety Training Corp., Crinklaw Farm Services Inc., Crop Production Services, Inc., Grimmway Enterprises, Kern County Farm Bureau, Lehr Brothers, Paramount Farming Company, Sunrise Sprayers, Tessenderlo Kerley Inc., Valent USA Corporation.

The event is free of charge to attend and includes lunch. For more information on Spray Safe, or to register to attend the event, please contact David Gustafson at (661) 758-6070 or Dale Nicol (661) 978-4440.