Mar 10, 2020
Strawberry grower in California fined for illegal pesticide use

In an ongoing effort to enforce stringent pesticide regulations, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation announced March 4 it has fined a Santa Barbara County strawberry grower $15,000 after an illegal pesticide was detected on his crop.

The grower, Santos Barrera, of Santa Maria, was also prevented from further harvesting his strawberry crop for three months while an investigation occurred.

“This action will serve as a strong deterrent to anyone who violates California’s pesticide rules and regulations,” said California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Director Val Dolcini. “Continued partnership and strict enforcement of these laws by DPR and local County Agricultural Commissioners will ensure pesticides are applied responsibly, legally, and in total compliance with labeling requirements.”

The enforcement action comes after DPR’s Residue Monitoring Program detected the pesticide methomyl during a routine inspection at a grocery store in Fresno County in September 2019. Methomyl is a restricted material, PDFDownload, that can only be used on crops listed on the label and with a permit issued by the County Agricultural Commissioner. State and federal law prohibits the use of this pesticide on strawberries.

The investigation led by DPR and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner (CAC) led to Barrera’s 7.5 acre strawberry field in Santa Maria where methomyl was detected. As a result, DPR ordered the destruction of four tons of tainted strawberries that could have otherwise been sold to consumers, and the Santa Barbara CAC ordered that no more strawberries could be harvested from this field.

Growers on a field adjacent to Barrera’s, MGA Farms, operated by Armando Barragan and Martin Barragan, were also fined a total of $5,000 for pesticide violations. DPR’s investigation found that the three growers unlawfully packed, shipped and sold produce containing pesticide residue in excess of the permissible level. The county is carrying out its own investigation which may determine additional violations.

DPR and the local county Agricultural Commissioners (CACs) enforce federal and state pesticide laws and regulations. We administer the nation’s largest state monitoring program for analyzing domestic and imported produce for pesticide residues, and ensures compliance with pesticide product registration and labeling requirements.

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