Gov. Gavin Newsom has opened a new battle front with the agriculture industry by proposing to overhaul the mill assessment on pesticides, which acts like a sales tax to fund the bulk of the budget for the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
The existing flat fee structure, which has not increased in more than a decade, would be replaced by a risk-based assessment. Fees would escalate through a tiered system based on the toxicity of each pesticide product.
CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said in a press call that this is something the governor “cares deeply about,” adding: “It actually sounds fairly simple, but is fairly radical.”
Blumenfeld expects the new tax will generate $20 million a year for IPM research and add $16.5 million for enforcement and monitoring. The additional revenue would also allow the agency to expand both its pesticide air monitoring network and community engagement.
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Yet the administration is handing over responsibility for fleshing out the policy to lawmakers. Keely Bosler, the state’s finance director, noted that changing the mill assessment would require a two-thirds vote from the Legislature, setting up an urban-rural battle to come.
Industry groups, which have been anticipating this proposal for months, are likely to push for more transparency on how DPR spends its budget. Ag representatives have shared with Agri-Pulse concerns that DPR has increased spending on environmental justice programs while its process for registering new products has dropped to a sluggish pace.