Agriculture has always played an important part in Placer County's economic success and colorful history. The Board of Supervisors continues to support and encourage agriculture in the county with the Right to Farm ordinance and the Placer Legacy Open Space and Agricultural Conservation Project.
The Agriculture Department responsibilities include:
- Performing agricultural and pesticide inspections
- Helping farmers maintain healthy crops and livestock
- Certifying weighing and measuring devices for consumer protection
- Performing quantity control and price verification inspections
- Assisting in predatory animal control
Areas of Responsibility
Agricultural and Environmental Protection
Pesticide Use Enforcement
California has one of the strongest pesticide regulation programs in the country. Although pesticide laws and regulations are established at the state and federal levels, the County Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for their local implementation. The legal definition of a pesticide includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, plant growth regulators, and disinfectants… therefore, it includes laundry bleach as well as Roundup® herbicide.
The Pesticide Use Enforcement program ensures that pesticides are used in an appropriate and responsible manner that protects the environment, the public and applicators. County inspectors enforce laws and regulations pertaining to the use of all pesticides in agricultural, structural, right-of-way, landscape maintenance, and home use settings. Inspectors conduct field inspections of applications and pesticide storage as well as the records of pesticide dealers and employers with employees handling pesticides for compliance. The Agricultural Commissioner has the authority to levy administrative civil fines for pesticide-related violations.
Inspectors issue permits for the use of pesticides that are restricted, visit farms to ensure pesticides do not endanger workers, the public and nearby sensitive habitats and investigate complaints and reports of illnesses due to pesticides.
Pest Detection is a proactive program that seeks to identify exotic, invasive insect like Mediterranean fruit fly, Gypsy Moth, Japanese Beetle, Asian Citrus Psyllid and Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter. These pests have a wide host ranges and are difficult and costly to manage once established. Early detection is essential for quick and efficient eradication. Public participation is critical to the success of this program, since staff relies on the goodwill of property owners who allow traps to be placed on their properties. The Agriculture Department deploys over 1,300 traps annually between spring and fall.
The Pest Exclusion program is the first line of defense against the introduction of new insect pests and diseases into Placer County and California. Agricultural Inspectors examine incoming plant material to verify compliance with state and federal quarantines at major shipping terminals in the county, including UPS, FedEx and retail and wholesale nurseries.
In cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Inspectors actively conduct surveys for invasive pest species. Pest eradication efforts in Placer County are currently focused on noxious weeds such as spotted knapweed, Scotch thistle and yellow starthistle.
Both wholesale and retail plant nurseries are required to be licensed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Wholesale, not retail, nurseries are inspected for compliance with applicable State laws and regulations pertaining to Nursery Stock for pest cleanliness, labeling, quality and variety certification standards. Nurseries receiving plant material from out of state or from a quarantine area within California are required to notify the County Agriculture Department and have the plants inspected prior to offering them for sale.
A certified farmers' market is a location approved by the County Agricultural Commissioner where certified farmers offer for sale agricultural products they grow themselves or products from another certified farmer. Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture inspect farms and other properties to verify what is raised or grown there. After satisfactorily meeting the requirements of the inspection, the farmer is certified for specific products.
Farmers who want to claim they are selling organic produce must become registered and/or certified as organic producers. Certification is done through a private, third-party certifying agency. Organic producers are required to register with the Agricultural Commissioner annually and maintain specific records of their organic production.
Staff inspects seed products for proper identification of seeds and sample for quality (noxious weed seed contamination). Seed may be ordered “off-sale” if found to be in violation of State laws or regulations.
Retail Egg Inspection:
Staff inspects fresh eggs offered to sale at the retail level for quality assurance. Eggs may be ordered “off-sale” if found to be in violation of State laws or regulations.
The Department publishes the Annual County Crop Report as required by State law.
The purpose of the Weights and Measures program is to promote value comparison and fair competition in the marketplace.
Weighing Device Inspections:
All weighing devices used in commercial transactions are inspected annually including scales used to weigh livestock, vehicles, produce, grain and gravel. Failure to have weighing devices inspected and sealed prior to commercial use is a violation of State laws and regulations.
Measuring Device Inspections:
Agricultural and Standards Inspectors test, inspect and seal all commercial measuring devices including gas pumps, water vending machines, cordage meters, fabric yardage meters, propane delivery trucks and stationary dispensers and privately-owned utility submeters (electric, vapor and water). Failure to have measuring devices inspected and sealed prior to commercial use is a violation of State laws and regulations.
Other jurisdictional responsibilities include the quality testing and advertisement compliance of petroleum products, package inspections to verify net content statements, including quantity inspection of products sold by volume or count and price verification (scanner) inspections. The program includes ongoing undercover sales and purchases to supplement other primary testing procedures.
Weighmasters are licensed people who weigh products for commercial transactions and issue certificates for the weight for verification by a third party. Buyers and sellers both rely on the use of weighmaster certificates for honest transactions. Staff inspects the records weighmasters are required by law to maintain for compliance. Failure to maintain accurate records is a violation of State laws and regulations.
The department’s Wildlife Services program is conducted in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program for the purpose of assisting Placer County citizens with wildlife-related issues and offering technical assistance for behavior modification, use of repellents, exclusion, and habitat modification. Wildlife Specialists primarily trap problem skunks, raccoons, and opossums in and around the urban areas as well as in rural areas. Staff also responds to depredation calls involving the loss of livestock and pets from predators like coyotes, mountain lions, and bears. They also assist with beavers that build dams that often result in the flooding and damage of property. Animals are euthanized and not relocated in compliance with State Fish and Game Codes.
Land Use Issues
Review, and comment on, projects potentially affecting agriculture in the County like the Hwy. 65 bypass, Placer Vineyards, Regional University, rezoning proposals of agricultural land, and land use permitting issues related to agriculture. Assist to resolve issues related to compatible land uses involving production agriculture and the keeping of livestock and horses.
Agricultural Marketing Program
Consistent with Placer County’s General Plan policies and goals related to agriculture, the Agricultural Marketing Program promotes Placer County agriculture through the development of agricultural marketing products, media coverage of agricultural stories and events, building community partnerships that highlight agriculture, increasing public awareness of, and support for eating fresh, local in season produce.
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