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 seventh annual SpraySafe event on Feb. 3, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

The SpraySafe 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, HAZMAT unit from Kern County Fire Dept., California Department of Pesticide Regulation and more about the importance of SpraySafe 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 SpraySafe program was initiated in Kern County and because of its success, has been implemented in other counties throughout the state. The Kern Drift Prevention Coalition, which was formed in 2005, is a cooperative of local farmers, spray applicators and elected officials, who work together to promote spraying safety and education.  “SpraySafe is a program that encourages farmers to communicate with each other and to be vigilant to help reduce incidents of spray drift,” said Dale Nicol, Spraysafe Committee member, who noted the annual SpraySafe event is an additional measure to provide continuing education on new and improved practices, technologies and precautions to improve farm safety.

“SpraySafe 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 SpraySafe 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 SpraySafe improvements can occur voluntarily, therefore reducing the need for formal regulatory actions by DPR,” said Mary-Ann Warmerdam, former director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, which awarded a grant in the amount of $50,000 to assist other counties in adopting SpraySafe.

This year’s SpraySafe event in Kern County is once again being sponsored by members of the local farming community, local farm associations and local enforcement agencies which currently includes; Buttonwillow Land & Cattle Company, Kern County Farm Bureau, California Safety Training Corporation, Bolthouse Farms, Sunrise Sprayers, Almendros, Lehr Bros Inc., State Compensation Insurance Fund, Crop Production Services Inc., Grimmway Enterprises Inc. and CFSLP

The event is free of charge to attend and includes lunch.  For more information on SpraySafe, or to register to attend the event, please send an email to spraysafe2010@gmail.com or call David Gustafson at (661) 758-6070.