SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Recently proposed regulations on a pesticide used by berry growers could end up hurting local farmers.
Strawberries in particular are very sensitive to diseases within the soil. These fumigants keep the soil clean. Without them, farmers say you don't have a healthy plant.
Growers are prevented from using fumigants within a certain distance of habitable structures, called buffer zones, meaning large portions of their field produce less quantity and quality fruit. The proposed regulations could increase these buffer zones among other things.
The California Strawberry Commission suggested larger buffer zones could force growers to weigh other options.
Communications Director Carolyn O'Donnell says, "often we have fields and farms that are very close to people. And so certainly making sure that there are safeguards for those people is important. I think we are going to have to judge kind of on a case by case basis how realistic some of the new regulations may or may not be. Some fields maybe will have to go to some other type of production."
The proposed regulations are concerning the fumigant chloropicrin. Chloropicrin exposure is said to result in upper respiratory problems and teary eyes but no long term damage is suspected from exposure.
The California Strawberry Commission says it has donated about $3 million in alternative fumigant research.
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