Bay Area Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan wants to increase fines on pesticide spray drift incidents to ensure “repeat offenders and bad actors” are held accountable.

Anne Katten of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, a fixture in meetings at the Department of Pesticide Regulation, testified that these incidents can impact up to “several hundred individuals.” She detailed a range of medical symptoms.

Louie Brown, representing citrus, fresh fruit and other commodity groups, pointed out the proposed bill offers a five-fold increase in fines, adding to a previous five-fold increase.

Bauer-Kahan clarified the increase to $25,000 would be for maximum fines, which are not always applied. She argued that the last increase was 20 years ago and is overdue.

An attorney representing agricultural commissioners was concerned about DPR taking over investigations. He hoped that could be a more collaborative process than the bill currently proposes.

Republican committee members felt the measure usurped local control. Several other ag groups also opposed the bill.

Keep in mind: The measure, Assembly Bill 1919, is identical to a bill proposed in 2017 by a neighbor to Bauer-Kahan, Asm. Bill Quirk. It died on the Assembly floor for the same issues cited by the opposition.

On that note: DPR has posted its summary of public comments on the Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Work Group, as sketched onto notepads during workshops in January.

Cal/OSHA issues guidelines for protecting workers from coronavirus

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued industry guidelines for protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases. The recommendations cover prevention steps for employers to take, as well as precautions for controlling exposures.

The Western Agricultural Processors Association warned its members yesterday of the new guidelines, which are subject to change as the situation evolves.

EPA fines San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis over pesticide mishandling

Wilbur-Ellis is paying $73,000 in penalties for the improper storage, labeling and containment of agricultural pesticides at three California facilities and one in New Mexico. EPA cited 14 violations, as discovered through inspections by DPR and a New Mexico agency.

The firm has corrected the issues and is reevaluating its processes.

FDA seeking new data on CBD

FDA is asking for more comments and research on the effects of the hemp derivative CBD on people and animals. FDA has reopened a comment period on CBD that closed last year and is keeping its docket open for input indefinitely.

The agency is “particularly interested in data that may help to address uncertainties and data gaps related to the safety” of CBD.

Among the many subjects for which it is seeing feedback, FDA said it wants to know about the effects of CBD on pets and food-producing animals, such as animal studies that “demonstrate the effect of CBD exposure in different target animal species, breeds, or classes, including information on the formation of residues in edible tissues of food-producing animals and safety of chronic exposure” of CBD, FDA says.

Greg Kaufman, who co-chairs the cannabis practice at the law firm Eversheds Sutherland, said he believes “the FDA is disappointed with the lack of data provided, and potentially with the quality of data received, in response to its repeated calls for data that it can use to inform its approach to regulating CBD.”

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