El Dorado County Agriculture Programs

 

Department Overview

The Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations from the California Food and Agricultural Code, the Business and Professions Code, the Health & Safety Code, the Government Code, the Civil Code, the California Code of Regulations and the County of El Dorado Codes pertaining to agriculture, and weights and measures in both El Dorado and Alpine Counties.

 

Mission

 

The Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures’ mission is to protect, enhance, and promote the preservation of agriculture and the environment while sustaining the public health, safety and welfare of all citizens, and to provide consumer and marketplace protections through the fair and equitable enforcement of laws and regulations.



Programs

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for several mandated programs, all of which serve to promote, protect, and enhance agriculture in El Dorado County, Alpine County, and beyond. These programs include the following: 

/uploadedImages/April 28. 2009 pest exclusion inspection 003 (Small)(1).jpg Pest Exclusion – Plant Protection & Quarantine Inspection
 This program inspects incoming commodities that may be carrying pests not wanted in the county or California. Our goal is to prevent non-indigenous, harmful pests from becoming established. By doing so, we ensure a more  efficient use of our limited resources. The Pest Exclusion Program promotes a healthy agricultural economy by keeping California's crops free of exotic pests that would otherwise require us to impose restrictive quarantine  measures; and thereby, decrease marketing options for our growers and ranchers. This program facilitates the exportation of our unprocessed agricultural products to other states and countries. Staff biologists are trained and  certified as USDA-APHIS Inspectors for issuing Federal Phytosanitary Certificates on commodities for export. This program is our first line of defense against importation and exportation of economically detrimental pests.

Grape Phylloxera Quarantine
All grapevines and cuttings (rooted or otherwise) are prohibited entry into or movement within El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mariposa, Nevada, and Placer Counties unless accompanied by an origin certificate or a Hot Water Treatment certificate. All shipments of grapevines and cuttings (rooted or otherwise) destined to El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mariposa, Nevada, and Placer Counties must be held at destination for inspection by the county agricultural commissioner. Equipment used in culturing, harvesting, or transporting within the vineyard shall be held for inspection upon arrival in El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mariposa, Nevada, and Placer Counties and shall not be used until inspected and released by the county agricultural commissioner. Any person, firm, partnership, association, or co-operation who violates or causes the violation of any of the provisions of these ordinances shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to possible fines.

/uploadedImages/Picture 088 (Medium).jpg Pest Detection
 The Pest Detection Program is a secondary line of defense against injurious pests after the pest prevention and quarantine programs. The Pest Detection Program facilitates early detection of exotic pest infestations (such as Mediterranean fruit fly or Gypsy moth) that would be extremely detrimental to our agricultural community, natural resources, and environment. This program also helps to prevent the need for increased pesticide usage and gives agriculture the flexibility to ship their commodities throughout the world.

Another facet to this program includes the placement of insect specific traps in vineyards to detect Vine Mealybugs before they reach uncontrollable population levels. 

Pest Management – Vegetation Management
There are nine different noxious weed species currently under active eradication in El Dorado County. The majority of the weed species being removed are listed as "A" rated weeds by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. An "A" rating means the noxious weed species is of limited distribution throughout California and may lead to a large, negative economical impact. By continuing with an early detection and rapid response strategy the department stops the introduction and spread of these unwanted plants; thus protecting agriculture, rangeland, timberlands, and the overall environment. Integrated Pest Management techniques are used whenever possible in this program.

Vertebrate Pest Management
The following vertebrate pests have been found in El Dorado County:

  • Two species of ground squirrels
  • Rats
  • Voles
  • Rabbits
  • Muskrats
  • Two species of mice

These rodents have been known to cause tremendous agricultural and structural damage. They also act as vectors for various life threatening diseases that are transmittable to humans, including (but not limited to) Bubonic Plague, rabies, and Hanta Virus.

The goal of this program is to target specific rodent pests without impacting other beneficial populations of mammals and birds.

Glassy-winged Sharpshooter
The Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Pest Management Program was initiated in 1999 to prevent the introduction of this insect into El Dorado County. GWSS is known to spread Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial infection that can devastate vineyard plantings. Part of the pest-monitoring program includes inspections of all nursery stock shipped into the county from known infested areas. In addition, more than four-hundred insect traps are deployed seasonally and monitored bi-weekly in nurseries, vineyards, plus urban and rural locations throughout the county. 

Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) emphasises preventative methods that provide economical, long-term solutions to pest problems while minimizing hazards to human health and the environment. IPM helps inform growers, pest control advisors, and home/garden owners of a combination of mechanical, biological and chemical practices to help handle pest infestations, often while minimizing the use of pesticides. 

/uploadedImages/April 22. 2009 GWSS Inspection 001 (Medium).jpg Nursery Inspection
 Inspections are performed on nursery stock entering El Dorado County and Alpine County from outside areas that harbour unwanted pests. This program includes the inspection for cleanliness and compliance of nursery stock produced within the county. These inspections help protect our surrounding communities and natural resource areas, while fostering fair competition, by assuring customers that purchased nursery stock is free from certain plant pests.This program provides a means for our local growers to ship their nursery products throughout the state, nation, and world.

Seed Inspection
The Seed Inspection Program is designed to protect growers and consumers from purchasing and planting substandard seed. By regulation, seed must be labeled with an accurate percentage of germination, test date, kind of seed, and the percentage of hard seed and weed seed.

Apiary Inspection
Apiary inspections are performed for the purpose of sustaining the continuing the health of the bee industry in California. Infected, or otherwise diseased, hives are not allowed residence within our county's borders.

Fresh Fruit, Nut, Vegetable and Honey Quality Control
This program enforces quality standards for a majority of the fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables and honey available for sale at the wholesale and retail level. These standards are set by the fruit, nut, vegetable, and bee industries to serve three purposes:

1) To assist the production agricultural industry in maintaining high quality produce
2) To permit the buying of produce "sight unseen" by ensuring the "grade" placed on the produce is standardized throughout the industry 
3) To protect the consumer from inferior quality produce

Egg Quality Control
This program is designed similarly to the Fruit, Nut, Vegetable and Honey Quality Control Program. The Egg Quality Control Program assures a standardized grading and sizing system, thereby allowing the egg producing industry to remain competitive, while affording some protection to the consumer. Additionally, egg quality standards are crafted to help protect the health of the public.

Click on the below links to learn more about California's Egg Quality Control Program.

1) New Shell Egg Food Safety Regulations
2) Shell Egg Handler Information
3) California Shell Egg Regulation Quick Reference Guide
4) Registration Form/Information Sheet for Egg Handlers

Certified Farmers’ Market (Direct Marketing)
Certified Farmers' Markets and Direct Marketing are locally important markets that give agricultural producers the option of selling directly to the consumer without the condition of meeting size, pack, container, and labeling requirements (Standardization). These markets give the public a “direct” link to locally grown agricultural products by allowing the consumer to buy firsthand from the farmer/rancher. We have multiple, seasonal markets operating in the county. Each market hosts a unique medley of participating growers from both in and out of El Dorado County. 

Organic Producers
The Agriculture Department is the local enforcement agency for organic crop registration, investigation of complaints, and auditing of organic producers and handlers. We assist organic producers and their businesses with the registration process by explaining the requirements of California's organic laws and the requirements of the Federal Organic Act.

/uploadedImages/alpine crop cover 2010.JPG Crop Report

 An annual crop report is required by California's Food and Agricultural Code for the purpose of publishing an accurate and meaningful report of the agricultural conditions in El Dorado and Alpine Counties. Lending/financial  institutions, news outlets, statistical services, education centers, realty agencies, and prospective agricultural land purchasers are extremely interested in the annual crop report. The crop report represents an overview summary of our top commodities, thus protecting the privacy of our growers and ranchers while emphasising the importance of agriculture to our local economy.

 

 

Pesticide Use Enforcement
The pesticide regulations of California require safe, responsible handling of pesticides from the time of purchase through transportation, storage, usage and disposal. Environmental and public safeties are of paramount importance to this program. The enforcement of both state and federal regulations by this department applies to all agricultural, non-agricultural, and structural pesticide usage. Pesticides deemed by federal and state regulations to be of a more hazardous nature are further regulated under the Restricted Materials Permit Program. 

/uploadedImages/IMG_0360 (Medium).JPG Weights and Measures
 Even though many people may be unaware of this program, it affects everyone's daily life. Our trained staff inspect all commercially used devices, such as, gas pumps, scales and scanners, while also testing packages to ensure the product inside accurately reflects what is stated on the label. Our department also enforces requirements for petroleum products, including antifreeze, brake fluid, motor oil, grades of diesel and octane levels of gasoline.

We promote fairness and equity in the marketplace for El Dorado and Alpine County residents and businesses. The mission of weights and measures is to allow a good value comparison to the consumer while maintaining fair competition between businesses.
 

Wildlife Services

Wildlife Services works to maintain a biologically-sound integrated wildlife damage management program to assist public agencies, businesses, private citizens, schools, property owners, farmers, and ranchers in a cooperative venture between El Dorado County, Alpine County, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and California Fish and Wildlife. Wildlife Services is a county program intended to provide federal leadership and skill to resolve wildlife interactions that threaten public health and safety, as well as agricultural, property, and natural resources.

The main focus of this program is to provide technical assistance to prevent wildlife conflicts and to remove only problem animals. Administration and oversight are provided by the Agricultural Commissioner and the USDA Regional Wildlife Services Supervisor. The department’s appropriations include a contract with USDA. Revenues include a portion of unclaimed gas tax received from the State of California, Department of Food and Agriculture. The USDA provides 1.0 full time employee (FTE) through contract to match the County’s 1.0 FTE dedicated to this program.

Agricultural Commission

Created in 1967 by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, the seven member Agricultural Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission on all matters related to agriculture. The Agricultural Commission’s scope of interest includes a wide variety of agricultural, timber, and land use issues including agricultural land preservation, agricultural production, forestland preservation, and forest production. The Agricultural Commission also advises the Board of Supervisors of procedures and techniques requiring legislative or policy actions that would encourage and promote agricultural activities conducive to the continued well-being of El Dorado County.