The County Ag Commissioner is charged with the protection and promotion of California’s agriculture, the protection of the environment as well as the protection of the public’s health and safety. In addition, the Agricultural Commissioner is also the County Sealer of Weights and Measures, which involves the protection of consumers and industry through the regulation of all weighing and measuring devices used in commercial transactions. These goals are accomplished by the various programs outlined below:
This program provides the first line of defense for California agriculture and the environment against the invasion of exotic pests. Inspections provide protection from the introduction of insect and disease pests that may be introduced into the State through normal channels of trade. The establishment of these new pests may adversely affect our natural environment as well as negatively impact the local and State economy. This program also involves inspections of plant material being delivered to other states and countries and the issuance of certificates documenting compliance with their entry requirements.
This program provides the second line of defense against exotic pests through the early detection of new introductions before they become widely established. Traps are placed in primarily urban areas to detect such insect pests as Mediterranean and Mexican fruit flies, Gypsy Moth, Japanese Beetle, and a host of other targeted pest species. Through early detection the likelihood of these pests becoming established in the state is lessened and the cost and environmental impact of eradication is minimized. At the peak season, over 800 pest detection traps are in place throughout the County.
Pest Eradication & Pest Management
Pest eradication programs are often conducted following the discovery of an introduced pest species. Currently the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office is involved in eradication of Scotch Thistle, a non-native weed that has been found in two small areas of the County.
Pest Management is a response to a pest that has become established in the County and eradication is not feasible. The Agricultural Commissioner works to lessen the impact the pest may pose to the County’s economy and environment. Recently, the Agricultural Commissioner’s office helped organize the San Benito County Weed Management Area, a partnership between other agencies and organizations for managing invasive weed pests.
Pesticide Use Enforcement
California has the most comprehensive pesticide regulatory system in the nation. The Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for the implementation of the statewide program at the County level. This program regulates the proper, safe, and effective use of pesticides that are essential for production of food and for protection of the public health and safety. Structural and landscape use of pesticides are also regulated by the Commissioner. It also protects the environment from potentially harmful pesticides by prohibiting, regulating or ensuring proper stewardship of pesticides. Other components of the program include pesticide use reporting, incident investigations, outreach activities, inspection of users/distributors of pesticides and monitoring applications in the field.
Inspections are performed at the retail and wholesale establishments that sell seeds. Samples are drawn for germination and purity testing. Labeling is inspected for compliance with state requirements. Through this program, certification services are also performed for growers and processors, in cooperation with the California Crop Improvement Association.
Through this program, the Commissioner inspects the growing, propagation, production and sale of nursery stock to assure cleanliness from pests, true variety and vigorous-healthy plants for sale to the consumer.
Fruit and Vegetable Standardization
This program ensures compliance with California’s minimum standards regarding quality and marketing of all produce commercially grown and/or marketed in the state. Direct Marketing regulation and Organic law enforcement are part of a program that provides for local protection to growers, marketers and consumers.
As required by the California Food and Agricultural Code, the Commissioner compiles and records information in the annual Crop Report regarding the gross production and value of the county’s commodities. Various research institutions, schools, banks, agencies and businesses use this valuable information to the benefit of the local economy. Also, disasters to agriculture are surveyed and the information collected is used by other agencies offering disaster relief. Statistics promote and protect the continued production and prosperity of agriculture in California.
Weighing and Measuring Devices
County Inspectors inspect and test the various types of weighing and measuring devices throughout the County. Those found to be within California standards are “sealed” and are allowed to be used for commercial transactions. Those devices that fail the testing are “red tagged” and placed out of service until repaired by a licensed device repair company. Examples of some of the types of devices inspected are: gasoline pumps, store scales, truck scales, fuel truck delivery meters and livestock scales.
From time-to-time, County Inspectors conduct inspections on packaged goods to determine if the proper weight, tare, measure or count is being used. Test purchases are also made at various retail stores to check for the accuracy of price scanners at the checkout stand.
Consumer complaints received by the Sealer of Weights and Measures are investigated in this manner to check for any discrepancies.
Weighmaster and Petroleum Inspections
Weighmasters play an important part in the economy of the County and the nation. Weighmasters are persons who are licensed by Weights and Measures to certify the weighted, measured or counted quantity of any material in certain commercial transactions. Inspections are conducted by the County to ensure that weighmaster and weighmaster certificates are in compliance with the California Business and Professions Code.
In response to the introduction of West Nile Virus to California, the Agricultural Commissioner recently assumed responsibility for mosquito abatement. To report problems with mosquitoes, or for advice on mosquito management, please contact our office at (831) 637-5344. To report a dead bird, contact the California Department of Public Health at (877) 968-2473. For general health questions on West Nile Virus, call the San Benito County Health Department at (831) 637-5367.
USDA Wildlife Services – Animal Damage Control
This program provides control of wildlife that causes damage or nuisance problems to urban and rural residents of San Benito County. To contact the USDA Wildlife Specialist, call our office at (831) 637-5344 and leave a message on extension 19.
NOTE: Due to budget concerns, the Wildlife Services program was discontinued on October 31, 2012.