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Farm Show Wrap-up

The 52nd Colusa Farm Show matched farmers from all over Northern California with professionals in the agriculture industry during its three-day run at the Colusa County Fairgrounds. — Susan Meeker

The 52nd annual Colusa Farm Show wrapped up its three-day run on Thursday under showery skies, but it didn’t stop farmers from learning about the latest advances in technology and services that could make their operations more productive.

Vendors scattered about the fairgrounds and inside the main exhibit buildings saw a steady stream of people throughout the exhibition.

“It was a good show,” said Hans Stulken, business development specialist with North State Solar Energy.

The 2017 Colusa Farm Show was Stulken’s third with the local solar energy company, and Stulken said he’s always happy to talk to people about reducing energy costs and consumption by installing solar.

Stulken has been in the business 11 years and was a national sales manager with another company, before getting on board with North State four years ago.

The local company just completed its 100th installation in Colusa County.

“No one has done what North State Solar Energy has done and make a commitment to use American-made products,” he said. “It was easy for me to choose.”

This was the first Colusa Farm Show for Rob Marquardt, of Stuke Nursery, another long-time vendor at the exhibition.

“The show is a lot bigger than what I thought it would be,” said Marquardt, who was happy to network with farmers planning on investing in or expanding their walnut orchards.

Marquardt will replace Lesli Nerli as Stuke’s general manager next year, when Nerli commits to farming full time.

Nerli is one of a very few nut growers who are unconcerned with falling walnut prices. Walnuts have dropped from an all-time high of about $3 a pound to $1 a pound.

“A dollar is still a good price for walnuts,” she said. “Not everybody agrees with me, but this price allows more people to afford walnuts, and as a result, walnut consumption will go up.”

In addition to learning about the latest equipment, products, and services, visitors to this year’s show popped in to a number of seminars, including presentations on Sites Reservoir, the Ag Leadership Foundation, Food Safety, and Family Water Alliance updates.

On Thursday, Anna Genasci, education specialist with AgSafe, spoke about new, future, and proposed regulations designed to keep agriculture workers safe.

The non-profit is dedicated to providing employers and employees in the agricultural industry with education and resources to prevent injuries, illness, and death.

“Our goal is to be the one-stop place for ag compliance,” Genasci said.

Sites Reservoir general manager Jim Watson presented immediately before Genasci. Only three people attended the Sites Reservoir seminar, which Watson said was surprising.

“This may be a situation where the organizers need to decide if this is a venue where the they want to have these sort of discussions or not,” Watson said. “I just took it in stride: it’s a little disappointing, but it also may be an indication that people have already made a decision about Sites Reservoir.”

Watson gave an update on the Sites Reservoir membership, and said that by the end of February he expected to have 34 agencies participating in the project.

“We’ve grown pretty well in the last year and half,” Watson said.

Watson said the Sites Joint Powers Authority was working with the Bureau of Reclamation on a feasibility study, and they are on time to have a draft available by June.

“They are working on their feasibility study today. Our goal is to have them get the public comment on the feasibility and have it finalized when we finish our environmental documents,” Watson said.

Farm Show organizers said the annual exposition ran pretty smoothly, with the weather the first two days better than first expected, considering the forecast called for rain all three days.

The Farm Show committee, now at 12 members, also streamlined some of their activities preparing for the annual show.

The committee decided this year not to give out canvas bags filled with locally-grown products as a thank-you gift to the vendors, which had been a massive undertaking for many years, and instead gifted vendors with a quality embroidered baseball cap with the Colusa Farm Show logo.

The hats were sponsored by Colusa Casino Resort and Wells Fargo Bank.

Laserman, Pacific Gold Agriculture, California Family Foods, Pacific Metal Buildings, and California Walnuts were also Farm Show sponsors.

What’s new:

As of Jan. 2, 2017, mandatory training is required annually to inform farmworkers on the required protections afforded to them. (Previous requirement was once every five years.) Expanded training includes instructions to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.

For the first time ever, there is now a minimum age requirement: Children under 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides. (Family operations are exempt.)

Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides. The signs prohibit entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.

New no-entry application-exclusion zones up to 100 feet surrounding pesticide application equipment will protect workers and others from exposure to pesticide overspray.

Requirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets – centrally-posted, or by requesting records.

Mandatory record-keeping improving the state’s ability to follow up on pesticide violations and enforce compliance. Records of application-specific pesticide information, as well as farmworker training, must be kept for two years.

What’s next:

In 2018, Pesticide safety training must cover expanded content and meet the revised standards. Topics must include potential hazards from toxicity and exposure, chronic effects of pesticide exposure, delayed effects and routes through which pesticides can enter the body, and signs and symptoms of pesticide poisonings.

Pesticide handlers must suspend applications if workers or other people are in the application exclusion zone.

By January 1, 2019, new standards will be implemented that minimizes heat-related illness and injury among people working in indoor places of employment.

In the works:

New regulations are under development to prohibit pesticide applications within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and licensed child day-care facilities between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM Monday-Friday. These include all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast, and all fumigant applications. In addition, most dust and/or powder pesticide applications such as sulfur would also be prohibited during this time.

Require California growers and pest control contractors to notify public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities and county agricultural commissioners when certain pesticide applications are made within a quarter mile of these schools and facilities, and provide 48 hour notice prior to applying.

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