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Watsonville strawberry grower ordered to destroy crop

Posted: Thursday, Jun 20th, 2013

WATSONVILLE — The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) ordered Watsonville strawberry grower, VL Farms, located at 1120 Buena Vista Road to destroy 10 acres of strawberries, estimated to be worth about $200,000, after an illegal pesticide was detected on the crop.

In addition, the grower, V.L. Farms of Watsonville, has been ordered to pay a $15,000 penalty.

The enforcement action comes after DPR’s Residue Monitoring Program detected the pesticide methomyl on strawberries for sale in Los Angeles County.

State and federal law prohibits the use of this pesticide on strawberries.

A subsequent investigation by the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner and DPR also detected the pesticide on the crop and equipment at VL Farms.

“This is a significant action that should deter anyone who considers breaking our regulations,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy in a press release. “DPR works closely with local County Agricultural Commissioners to ensure that growers adhere to the state’s stringent pesticide rules, which make California’s produce the safest in the nation.”

The investigation was initiated in May, after DPR’s Residue Monitoring Program found illegal residues of methomyl on strawberries in retail outlets.

A California Department of Food and Agriculture laboratory detected 1.44 parts per million of the restricted material, which can only be used on crops listed on the label and with a permit issued by the County Agricultural Commissioner.

As a result, DPR ordered 1,093 cartons of strawberries removed from distributors and retail outlets.

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