Agriculture Services

Williamson Act

Pest Exclusion

The Pest Exclusion Program is California's first line of defense against the introduction of exotic pests which, if they were to become established, would be detrimental to agriculture and/or the environment of the State. The Agricultural Commissioner's staff inspects incoming plant shipments for compliance with the State's plant quarantine laws and for the presence of insect, weed, vertebrate and disease pests. In 2016, 1870 shipments were inspected by department staff. A total of 4 shipments were rejected.

Pest Detection

The Pest Detection Program represents California's second line of defense against the introduction and establishment of pests that are known to be economically detrimental to agriculture and the environment. The Department strategically deploys and monitors insect traps throughout the County for the presence of such exotic pests as Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Oriental Fruit Fly, Japanese Beetle and Gypsy Moth. Biologists are constantly on the lookout for new weed pest introductions along roadways and on rangeland in the County. Pet shops are inspected periodically for the presence of any prohibited species. In 1997, department staff detected a new "A" rated pest, Plumless Thistle, which is now under eradication.

Pesticide Use Enforcement

California has the most comprehensive pesticide regulatory system in the nation. The County Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for implementation of this statewide program at the local level. The Pesticide Use Enforcement Program includes annual registration of Agricultural and Structural Pest Control Businesses, Pest Control Advisors and Farm Labor Contractors that work in the County. The Program includes issuance of Restricted Materials Permits, Operator Identification Numbers (for non-restricted agricultural pesticides), and monitoring of pesticides applied in the County through a mandatory use reporting system. The Agricultural Commissioner's staff verifies compliance with pesticide laws by periodic inspections of pesticide applications, mixing and loading operations, employee headquarters inspections and inspection of pesticide storage facilities. Staff also investigates all reports of pesticide related illnesses, crop losses, pesticide drift and wildlife losses, as well as complaints of other alleged misuse of pesticides in the County that may be detrimental to human health and safety or the environment. It should be noted, however, that neither the County Agricultural Commissioner nor CDPR has jurisdiction over pesticides applied on or to any federal lands or facilities.

Apiary

This program emphasizes registration of honeybee colonies located in the County so that notification of nearby applications of pesticides, toxic to bees, can be issued. Department staff may, on request, inspect and certify the health of registered honeybee colonies. The Program also involves enforcement of the County Bee Ordinance with respect to complaints of improperly placed apiaries which adversely impact local residents.

Statistics

The County Agricultural Commissioner is required to compile an annual report of agriculture. These reports are used by a variety of businesses and institutions such as banks and other lending institutions, schools, government agencies and research facilities. Additionally, the Department is also called upon to conduct surveys relating to the impacts of natural disasters such as drought, flood and wildland fire on the local agricultural economy. Such statistical data is often instrumental in securing state and federal disaster relief for the affected segment of local agricultural industry.

Weighmaster

Weighmasters and their deputies are licensed by DMS to certify the weight, measure or count of any commodity that is sold when the purchaser is not present at the time of sale. Some of the most common examples of such transactions are sand, gravel and ready-mix concrete. Weighmaster Certificates are recognized by the justice system as being legal documents. As such, there are certain criteria that must be followed by Weighmasters when issuing Weighmaster Certificates. The County Director of Weights and Measures is responsible to inspect and provide regulatory oversight of all licensed Weighmasters in Calaveras County.

Petroleum Products

The County's Weights and Measures staff conducts periodic inspections of gasoline service stations to ensure that advertising price signs conform to the requirements of law including size, color and accuracy. All gasoline dispensing devices are also checked to ensure they contain require information for grade and octane. This program allows consumers the ability to do visual price comparisons from the street.

Weights and Measures staff also collect random samples of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, motor oil, automatic transmission fluid and anti-freeze for submission to DMS for testing to determine if the products meet established minimum standards.

Tips & Advice

  • Always stack and measure firewood prior to exchanging money.
  • Always obtain a Weighmaster Certificate when receiving a shipment of sand or gravel.
  • Obtain from the County University Extension Officer Publication No. 21541 "Yellow Starthistle Biology and Control" when planning your strategy against this noxious weed.

Quantity Control

Weights and Measures staff periodically conduct inspections of prepackaged commodities using statistical sampling procedures to determine if these items contain the stated quantity of product. Commodities are also examined for compliance with product labeling requirements of the Fair Packaging and Label Act.

The Quantity Control Program also includes a test purchase program at retail establishments throughout the County in order to verify the accuracy of transactions. Test items are selected at random and a purchase is made to determine if consumers are being charged appropriately. Consumer complaints received by the Department are investigated in this manner to check for any discrepancies. Any commodity that is sold by weight, measure or count, including firewood is under the jurisdiction of the County Director of Weights and Measures.

Device Repairman

Persons that sell, rent, install, service or repair weighing and measuring devices that are used for commercial purposes, are required to be licensed by Measurement Standards (DMS), a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Device Repairmen must report installations of new devices and repair of existing devices to the Department within 24 hours of completion of work. Department staff then verify the accuracy of the work by testing and sealing those devices.

Weighing and Measuring Devices

The County's Weights and Measures staff routinely inspect and test all weighing and measuring devices used commercially in the County. Devices inspected include gasoline dispensers, propane dispensers and delivery truck meters, taxi meters, commercially used scales including pharmacy, computing, livestock and vehicle scales. The Department is also responsible for testing privately owned LPG vapor and electric meters. In 2016, 4,268 commercial devices were registered with the Department. Staff also periodically conduct price verification audits of all scanning devices used in the County. Additionally, all complaints alleging short measure or weight, or overcharges are promptly investigated and the findings of such investigations are reported to the complainants. Once a device is tested, found to be accurate and appropriate for the intended use, a paper seal (label) is affixed to it by the inspector.

Egg Inspection

The Egg Inspection Program involves periodic inspection of eggs at local retail outlets to ensure that the product offered for sale conforms to State size, grade and quality standards.

Standardization

The Standardization Program involves periodic inspection of fruits, nuts, vegetables and honey offered for sale at local retail outlets to ensure they meet minimum quality standards as established by the State. Another aspect of this program involves oversight of direct marketing activities. This involves issuance of Certified Producer Certificates, Farmer's Market Certificates, and periodic inspections of such producers and markets to ensure consumers that all produce offered for sale was grown by the seller. Staff also registers local growers that desire to market their agricultural commodities as "Organically Grown", to provide assurance to consumers that such products are grown in accordance with California's strict standards for organically grown food products.

Nursery

The Department's staff routinely inspects nurseries within the County to insure that nursery stock is properly labeled, commercially clean with respect to weeds, insect pests, diseases, and that only vigorous healthy plants are offered for sale to the consumer.

Seed Inspection

Under the Seed Inspection Program the Agricultural Commissioner's staff periodically inspects seed for agricultural planting for compliance with State labeling requirements for purity and germination percentages.

Pest Management

The County Agricultural Commissioner is charged with the responsibility of providing assistance and guidance from specially trained staff in the control of common pest that are detrimental to agriculture, the environment, or that are a threat to human health and safety. Such pests include plant diseases, noxious weeds, rodents, birds and other vertebrate pests causing damage. The Department, in cooperation with USDA and CDFA also strives to implement effective biological control, when practical, on a variety of insect and weed pests. To date, the Calaveras County Department of Agriculture has introduced biological control organisms for Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer, Ash Whitefly, Klamath Weed, Italian Thistle, Milk Thistle, Puncturevine, and Yellow Starthistle.

The Agricultural Commissioner also administers a cooperative agreement between the County, CDFA, and USDA Wildlife Services for the control of other vertebrate pests such as skunk, raccoon, opossum, beaver, coyote, bear, and mountain lion, that are damaging agriculture or that are a threat to human health and safety.

Pest Eradication

The Pest Eradication Program is the third line of defense in the overall Pest Prevention Program. The purpose of this program is to eradicate pest infestations that penetrate the first two lines of defense before eradication becomes economically impractical. In Calaveras County, there are currently seven "A" rated weed pests under eradication. County operated eradication projects include Dalmatian Toadflax, Scotch Thistle, Skeleton Weed, Spotted Knapweed, Spotted-diffuse knapweed, Diffuse knapweed, and Plumeless Thistle. CDFA has eradicated the water weed Hydrilla from waterways within Calaveras County.