CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld apologized Tuesday for not having “a longer conversation” with farmers before proposing to overhaul the pesticide mill assessment.

During an Ag Day conference for the California Farm Bureau, Blumenfeld said he heard a great deal of frustration over the budget proposal when he recently visited Fresno.

“I completely own and apologize for that,” Blumenfeld told Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “My commitment to all of you is to try and be a better listener this year.”

Blumenfeld said the issue deserves more than a two-month conversation. He also highlighted the work of the Almond Board and the Strawberry Commission for efforts in sustainability and reducing the need for pesticides. He said that “the governor's goal looks to speed up this critical work with additional funding.”

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Blumenfeld vowed to work collaboratively with farmers to resolve the many regulatory hurdles the industry faces, “because you're an incredibly important part of California.”

“I know the conversations are sometimes not easy,” he added. “I know that there's often a lot at stake and real frustrations.”