A battle is brewing between California’s organic farmers and the state government over a pest management program organic producers say puts too much reliance on pesticide usage. According to Yahoo, organic food is currently enjoying double-digit growth in sales every year, and producers say the state’s new pest management program puts in place pesticide-focused regulations that will last for decades to come.
Yahoo reports that the main complaint organic producers have with the regulations is language that says compulsory state pesticide spraying of organic produce wouldn’t hurt farmers’ pocketbooks because the produce could simply be sold as non-organic. But Watsonville organic apple grower Zea Sonnabend would simply rather quit farming that grow non-organic produce. “I would rather stop farming than have to be a conventional farmer,” Sonnabend told Yahoo. “I think I am not alone in that.” Sonnabend is a member of the California Certified Organic Farmers, one of more than 30 agricultural, environmental and water agencies that have filed concerns about the California Department of Agriculture’s pest management plan.
According to Steve Lyle, spokesperson for the department, the pest plan is designed “to protect California’s food system through the principles of integrated pest management, while also protecting public health and the environment.” And while pests are a major concern for all farmers in California’s $43 billion agriculture industry, organic growers would like to see more consideration by the state towards non-toxic methods that strengthen crops to be more resilient when the pests invade.