A coalition of California agricultural groups has stepped into a dispute between the Kern County agricultural commissioner and the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

DPR Director Val Dolcini ordered the commissioner to adopt a pesticide notification system long called for by environmentalists. The ag coalition argued in a letter late Tuesday that Dolcini was overstepping his authority in citing a food and ag code that was outdated and out of context. While commissioners enforce DPR regulations, they are county officials who act independent of the state.

The coalition was “surprised and disheartened” about pesticide actions creeping into the mission of the emissions reduction program at the center of the dispute.

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The groups also questioned the need for such alerts. A public notification system in Monterey County, they pointed out, has drawn fewer than 5,000 people to the website since 2016. Less than half lived in California, and many of them were outside of Monterey County.