Pesticide Regulations and Strawberry Crops on Collision Course

New pesticide regulations could increase the cost of cultivating Santa Barbara County’s most lucrative crop. The Department of Pesticide Regulation is calling for increased “buffer zones” around fields where chloropicrin, a fumigant commonly used on strawberry plants, is used. The state would mandate a 60-foot buffer — as opposed to the federal minimum of 25 — and it would limit the size of the field where the fumigant can be used to 40 acres as opposed to 160 acres. Chloropicrin causes eye and respiratory irritation. In 2012, strawberries accounted for $441 million in the county.

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