California cracking down on use of pesticides near schools and daycare centers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Farmers with crops near schools could face new challenges when spraying pesticides. Under new rules announced on Tuesday, California farmers would be prohibited from spraying pesticides within a quarter mile of public schools or daycares between certain hours during the school week.

In the rural area of Ballico, a peach farm sits a few steps away from the town's elementary school.

Superintendent Bryan Ballenger says they have never had issues with farmers spraying during school hours. With the majority of his student's parents working in agriculture, he is worried that many could lose work.

"How many of my kids and their parents lose their jobs and our enrollment goes down and we lose violable community members that support our school-- that scares me," said Bryan Ballenger.

Jeff Storm just bought the peach and almond trees across the school about five weeks ago. The new rules are something he's keeping in mind moving forward.

"Its common sense, knowing kids are in school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., you're not going to be spraying close to them especially with a drift," said Storm.

The director of the state department of pesticide regulations says the new rules are to protect schools from unintended pesticide exposure.

Merced County Farm Bureau employees say the regulation also adds that farmers report what they will be applying, and give a 48-hour notice if anything changes.

"We have to notify the schools of what we're going to spray. It's just an added layer of what we have to do to right when we're getting ready for everything else," said Loren Scoto.

While the regulations are now in fine print, Merced County Farm Bureau officials say it does not stray far from what is already being done.

"Our guys take the highest precaution spraying around schools when they do and that's because they're kids and grandkids, and family friends go there--so this is of concern for them," said Breanne Ramos.
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