(Photo: John Nakata / Adobe)

By Valley Ag Voice Staff

The Kern County Farm Bureau is hosting its 18th annual Spray Safe Event on Jan. 19 at the Kern County Fairgrounds to bolster educational outreach to farmers and agricultural employees on safe pesticide techniques. While Spray Safe has been adopted by various counties in the state, a group of farmers in Kern County created the program to inform agriculture industry leaders of the safe application of spray methods and to create a networking environment. 

According to Dan Palla, Spray Safe chair, the event serves as a unique opportunity to update growers on regulatory changes and keep workers in the field safe. 

“Laws constantly change. So, growers need to be updated on laws, they need to be reminded on the things that they already should be doing and are doing,” Palla said. “Our laws are so rigorous, complicated and it takes reminding to remember all the rules and laws you’re supposed to obey, especially on pesticides.”  

Palla explained that the event is not limited to employers as roughly 75-80% of the event attendees are agricultural employees, and courses are taught in both English and Spanish.  

Attendees will rotate to different stations in groups to hear from a different presenter on a given topic, including different governmental organizations. The event offers continuing education credits for the Department of Pesticide Regulations, and guest speakers will include DPR officials, California Highway Patrol, and the fire department.  

“There’s not a lot of room for accidents in agriculture. And pesticides, you know, laws are very specific. You are to spray these chemicals without getting it on you, only on what you want to spray it on…so it cannot leave the confinement of your property when you spray it,” Palla said. 

If pesticides drift off the applicator’s property, swab samples can be taken off of other vehicles or clothing which will show a drift violation. Demonstrations for proper spray techniques will be showcased on various nozzles with water. 

Palla emphasized the importance of staying informed on laws and regulations to keep from following behind or running the risk of citations. 

“It’s kind of a strange thing…if you take a year off or a year or two off of educating yourself on the pesticide laws and the rules, you’re gonna get yourself in trouble,” Palla said. “They change rules, they change definitions. You never know what they’re gonna change. It’s a constant challenge to keep up.” 

The annual event is free to attend and offers tri-tip sandwiches and donuts.  

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