MARIPOSA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL COMMISSIONER /
SEALER OF WEIGHTS & MEASURES
The mission of the Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer of Weights & Measures is to protect agriculture, the business community, the public, and the environment. This is accomplished through providing a level playing field for all consumers by ensuring that standards are applied in an equitable and reasonable manner, emphasizing education and cooperation, while focusing on the consumer.
The Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer is an employee of the County, appointed by the County Board of Supervisors, and works cooperatively with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, CAL-EPA, and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer is responsible for carrying out various programs pursuant to State Laws and Regulations. Our responsibility is to carry out regulatory programs and enforce local ordinances, State, and (when applicable) Federal laws and regulations. One of our objectives is to promote, protect, and further the economy of California State and Mariposa County agriculture to the fullest extent commensurate with the public welfare. In addition, within the authority delegated, our objective is to actively further and protect the environment and the health and welfare of the people of the State and County.
Supporting federal efforts, County Agricultural Commissioner / Sealers provide the second line of defense against the introduction of injurious plant and animal pests, protect people and the environment from the impacts of pesticide use and protect businesses and consumers through constant and dedicated enforcement of agricultural and weights and measures laws and regulations.
Plant and product inspections are performed to ensure consumers and the agricultural community that agricultural commodities meet basic wholesomeness and quality standards and are pest free. Pesticide usage is monitored so that the life and health of the applicator and the public are safeguarded as well as the environment. In making sure that pesticides are used properly, we are also ensuring their future availability by preventing misuse which may cause an effective pesticide to be banned.
The charge of the Weights and Measures division is to promote equity in the marketplace by protecting both the consumer and business.
FUNCTIONS OF THE MARIPOSA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
AND WEIGHTS & MEASURES
The Agricultural Commissioner performs regulatory functions which are prescribed in the California Food and Agricultural Code, the Business and Professions Code, and the California Code of Regulations, respectively. The department has three main objectives: Environmental Protection, Consumer Protection, and Special Services.
Environmental Protection programs protect agriculture and the public from unfavorable economic or environmental impacts. This is accomplished by:
Pest Exclusion – This program provides the first line of defense for California agriculture. Inspections provide protection from the introduction or spread of harmful insects, plant diseases, weeds, and other pests into the county through the movement of plants and plant products as well as other items through normal channels of trade. The establishment of these new pests may adversely effect our natural environment as well as negatively impact the State’s economy. This program also involves the inspection and certification of agricultural export shipments to other states and countries and the issuance of certificates documenting compliance with their entry requirements. For example, we are there to inspect incoming plant shipments to ensure that non-native plant diseases such as Sudden Oak Death and insects such as Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter are not introduced into the county.
Pest Detection – This program provides the second line of defense against exotic pests through the early detection of new introductions before they become widely established. Insect traps are placed throughout the county to detect such insect pests as Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Gypsy Moth, Japanese Beetle, European Pine Shoot Moth, Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, Khapra Beetle, Light Brown Apple Moth, and a host of other targeted pest species. Through early detection the likelihood of these pests becoming established in the county is lessened and the cost and environmental impact of eradication is minimized. By placing insect traps, we are there to monitor for any insects that may have been illegally or unknowingly introduced into the county. We are also there to cooperate with state, federal, and international agricultural agencies when these pests are found in our county.
Pest Eradication – Pest eradication programs are often conducted following the discovery of an introduced pest species in order to eliminate infestations of new pests before they become widespread. Primarily we want to prevent their introduction, but if they are found in the county, we want to eradicate the population or control it if the infestation has gotten too large. Often these projects are partially or completely under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. However, we are often involved as the liaison to local government.
Pest Management – We are charged with the responsibility of managing nuisance pests of agriculture and human health. Many of these pests are recently introduced species that have become established despite the best efforts to keep them out. These include common pests such as ground squirrels, voles, gophers, and noxious invasive weeds that can be serious pests of agriculture and urban areas alike.
We also conduct programs to establish and distribute biological controls for troublesome pests. There have been successful efforts to distribute tiny wasps to control Ash White Fly, and continuing efforts to control Yellow Starthistle, puncture vine, and Lerp Psyllid through the distribution of bio-control agents. We also assist in controlling the population of those pests already present by: (1) providing expertise and materials to producers and homeowners for the control of certain vertebrate pests which are causing damage; and (2) identifying common pests for producers and homeowners.
Pesticide Use Enforcement - This is a complex program that covers far more than its name implies. This program was developed to provide for the proper, safe, and efficient use of pesticides essential for the production of food and fiber and for the protection of public health and safety. It also protects the environment from potentially harmful pesticides by prohibiting, regulating, or ensuring proper stewardship of pesticides. An important component of the program focuses on agricultural and pest control workers, ensuring safe working conditions, use of proper protective equipment, and training for employees who work with or around pesticides. Other components of the program include pesticide use reporting, incident investigations, outreach activities promoting best management practices, and monitoring applications in the field. This program also includes the registration of structural and agricultural pest control operators and advisors, private applicator certification, and pesticide illness complaints and investigations as well as the monitoring of pesticide use by the public through inspections and the issuance of restricted materials pesticide permits and operator identification numbers for non-restricted materials.
Consumer Protection entails regulating the quality of eggs, honey, and certain fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables, including farmer-direct marketing, monitoring conditions of nursery products, and the purity and viability of agricultural seed.
Fruit and Vegetable Quality Control – This program ensures compliance with California’s minimum standards regarding the quality and marketing of all produce commercially grown and/or marketed in the State to ensure that maturity, quality, labeling, and packaging standards are met for fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Direct Marketing regulation and Organic Program enforcement are part of a program that provides for local protection to growers, produce dealers, and consumers.
Egg Inspection – Retail egg dealers and egg packers are inspected to enforce state and federal health, quality, and grade standards to ensure that quality and labeling standards are met pertaining to eggs at both wholesale and retail levels.
Nursery Regulation – This program includes the inspection of the growing, propagation, production, and sale of nursery stock to ensure cleanliness from pests, properly labeled, and vigorous healthy viable plants for sale to the consumer, and prevent the spread of injurious pests through infested nursery stock.
Seed Regulation – Inspections are performed at the retail and wholesale establishments that sell seeds. Samples are drawn for germination and purity testing. Labeling is inspected for compliance with state requirements to ensure compliance with laws and regulations pertaining to identity, purity, and viability of agricultural and vegetable seed.
Apiary Inspection – This program emphasizes the registration and site location of honeybee colonies in the county as well as the investigation of apiary complaints and certification of colonies for strength and health upon request.
Crop Statistics – As required by the California Food and Agricultural Code, the Agricultural Commissioner is required to provide an annual report of the County’s agricultural statistics. This report includes an annual listing of the gross production and value of the county’s agricultural commodities. This demographic and financial information is used by real estate professionals, financial institutions, producers, libraries, businesses, schools, agencies, and other interested parties to the benefit of the local economy. Many important financial decisions that affect our county’s financial viability are made on the basis of this report. Disasters to agriculture such as drought are surveyed and the information collected is used by other State and Federal agencies offering disaster relief.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES:
The Sealer of Weights and Measures is charged with enforcement of the California Business and Professions Code and the California Code of Regulations pertaining to issues of “equity in the marketplace” and involving weights and measures matters, including the testing of packaged commodities for content and labeling accuracy. The Sealer performs regulatory testing of various commercial weighing and measuring devices as prescribed by the California Business and Professions Code. In order to carry out this charge, it is necessary to maintain certified standards which are traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “Equity in the marketplace” and protection of the consuming public is also accomplished according to code sections dealing with the accuracy of net contents statements, specialized measurements, petroleum price advertising, and weighmaster operations and records audits. Regulations governing the Sealer’s performance are found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 4.
Specific programs are as follows:
Weighing Devices Measuring Devices Quantity Control
Petroleum Weighmasters Service Agents
Accuracy of weights and measures has been important to all segments of society from biblical times. A very high percentage of things bought and sold are by weight, measure, or count. Weights and Measures laws have been in effect in the United States since 1836. In virtually any transaction you may make, the county weights and measures inspector serves as the “third party” protecting both business and the consumer to ensure equity and fairness in the marketplace.
Everyone has purchased items that were either weighed, measured, or metered by volume. The Sealer of Weights and Measures is responsible for checking and approving every weighing device that is used to charge money by weight. For example, when you purchase fruit, vegetables, or cuts of meat, you have directly benefited from our assurance that the seller’s scale is correct. When you purchase gasoline, that pump has been tested for accuracy and sealed by us; the quality of the gas is also tested to ensure that you are getting the correct grade and octane. Even when you purchase items at the store and go through the checkout line using bar codes, we also make sure that you are being charged the correct price.