February 2021
Kern Ag Commissioner Vows to Keep Pesticide Use Secret, Dares State to Sue
A year has passed since the Kern County town of Shafter was promised a notification program to warn them in advance of pesticide applications. Now, Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser has declared his intent to defy the lawful order by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Air Resources Board and CalEPA to make this public information available in advance.

The residents of Shafter were granted the pilot program under the environmental justice law AB 617, which addresses air emissions in highly impacted communities like Shafter. Funding of $250,000 was allocated by the state for implementation of Shafter's notification pilot program.

Kern County Community Organizer Byanka Santoyo told the Bakersfield Californian that farmers already provide advance notice of hazardous pesticide use to the Ag Commissioner and in Kern there's also notification from grower to grower. "Why is it that growers are allowed to know what other growers are spraying but residents are not?" she asked.

Fankhauser told the newspaper he's not going to turn over farmers' notices of intent to spray unless forced. "I'm just waiting to see what the next shoe to drop is," adding that the state may sue him for his recalcitrance.

CPR and 23 community and environmental justice organizations are calling on the state to stand firm and take this important step toward transparency for California agriculture. With 3 million pounds of pesticides sprayed around Shafter every year, many of them highly hazardous and prone to drift, it's long past time to let residents know what's being sprayed on their food crops, before it happens.
Credit Mike Cogh via Flickr
Photo Credit: Mike Cogh via Flickr
What's in our Well Water? Sonoma County Town of Graton Seeks Answers
A community-based study looking at pesticide contamination of groundwater sources is now underway in the Sonoma County town of Graton. The GRAPE study (GRAton PEsticides) is a joint effort by CPR, Sonoma Safe Agriculture Safe Schools (Sonoma SASS), UCSF, USGS and Breast Cancer Action, with funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program.

Located in the heart of wine country, Graton is an unincorporated community with no municipal water supply. Every household in the town relies on a well for their household drinking water. With vineyards and orchards surrounding the town on all sides, residents have long expressed concern about their pesticide burden and whether it is making its way into their water.

With this study, residents are taking steps to find answers to their questions. It's hoped that this pilot study will lead to further research into pesticide contamination of our environment, and links to cancer and other health impacts.