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Spring Agricultural Plastic Recycle Event!

Tony Linegar, Sonoma County Agriculture Commissioner

Stephanie

Our office will hold a plastic pesticide container recycle event again this spring.  The event will be held Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:00am – 3:00pm.

The collection site will be the Sonoma County Healdsburg Corporation Yard, which is located on Alexander Valley Rd. in Healdsburg.  Directions:  from Hwy.101, take the Lytton Springs exit, turn right on Healdsburg Avenue, and then turn left on Alexander Valley Rd. The corporation yard is on the left, approximately 0.1 mile. This site is across the street from the Healdsburg Transfer Station.

This event is open to growers, nurseries, pest control businesses, golf courses, parks, and government agencies. Plastic containers ranging in size from 1 pint to 55 gallons will be accepted.  Containers must be:

• Triple rinsed, punctured and dry
• The plastic lids and caps must be removed
• All label booklets and plastic sleeves must be removed from containers before         recycling, glued labels are ok
• Containers in size from 15 gallons to 55 gallons must be cut into quarters      before bringing to the recycle event
• 5 gallon buckets must have metal handles removed
• PLEASE - No PVC pipe, plastic tubing, metal containers, or containers that have held motor oil

Vineyard/Orchard Update 2013
For those of you who have obtained a Vineyard/Orchard Development permit (VESCO permit) April 1st is the first day you can begin soil disturbance on your project. If you have not obtained a permit for planting/replanting your vineyard/orchard, please telephone our office to begin the process.  Also, more information including the application forms can be found on our website at:  http://www.sonoma-county.org/agcomm/vesco.htm
In 2008, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisor’s amended the Grading, Drainage, and Vineyard and Orchard Ordinance to establish an expiration date for VESCO permits:

  • Permits which were issued prior to January 1, 2009 will expire on October 15, 2013 for new projects, and on November 15, 2013 for replant projects. 
  • Permits which were issued after January 1, 2009 expire five years after their approval date. 

There is a procedure to request a 180-day extension.  A letter is being sent to all projects that are subject to this new policy.  If you have questions regarding your VESCO permit, please contact our office.

As a reminder, all site development must be conducted between April 1 and October 15 for new vineyards/orchards and between April 1 and November 15 for replants.
We have created a new “Frequently Asked Questions” document which can help answer many questions regarding this process.  It is available on our website at: http://www.sonoma-county.org/agcomm/pdf/site_development_faq.pdf

If you have any questions regarding the Grading, Drainage, and Vineyard and Orchard Ordinance, please contact our office at (707) 565-2371.

Certified Farmers’ Markets

In 1977, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) established regulations that allow for the operation of Certified Farmers Markets (CFMS).  The regulations allow Certified Producers to be exempt from size, standard pack and certain container and labeling requirements, and thus allow them to market their agricultural commodities direct to the consumer at CFMS. Prior to the regulations, the only place a producer did not need to size, label, and have standard packing was when selling from the farm. With a diverse group of producers coming to Certified Farmer’s Markets (CFMS) consumers have access to a fresh and local commodity.

Sonoma County currently has twenty certified farmers’ market locations, which are approved yearly by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office. Each market is issued a market certificate by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office that is good for twelve months. Each market has to submit market rules and regulations to the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, along with a map of the market layout. Certified markets can be operated by certified producers, a government agency or a non-profit agency.

In order, for a grower to sell in the certified section of a farmers’ market, they must first apply for a Certified Producers’ Certificate issued by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office in the county where they grow their crops.  The following commodities can be certified and listed on the growers’ Certified Producer’s Certificate:  eggs, honey, nursery stock, cut flowers, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. Certified Producers’ Certificates issued in Sonoma County currently expired one year from date of issue, and cost $67.00. Non-certifiable agricultural products can also be sold in the certified section of a farmers’ market. These products are agricultural products that are derived from plants or animals that are raised or grown by the producer.  Some examples of non-certifiable agricultural products are olives, pickles, livestock and livestock products, poultry and poultry products, jams, wine, olive oil, roasted and salted nuts and fish from agriculture operations.   

Biologists from the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office conduct periodic inspections at each of the markets operating in Sonoma County. These inspections include: checking for a posted, current and embossed Certified Producer’s Certificate (CPC.) from the county of issuance, that products being offered for sale are in season and are listed on the CPC, that the produce meets quality and maturity standards, and that all weighing devices are operational and have a current seal. 

Sonoma County Farmers’ Market locations with dates and times of operation, plus market manager contact information and website information can be found on the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s website under “List of Sonoma County Certified Farmers’ Markets, Locations, Hours, and Individual Market Rules.” http://www.sonoma-county.org/agcomm/cert_farmers_mkts.htm. Applications to become a certified producer can also be found on our website, along with an information packet for producers.

RETAIL MOTOR FUEL

One of the core duties of the Weights and Measures Division is to inspect and certify all retail fuel meters in the county of Sonoma.  The three year average inspection compliance rate for the 3,820 retail fuel dispensers in the county is 94.7%.  The majority of noncompliance issues involve burned out displays, leaks in the hose seals and measurement errors requiring recalibration of the meter.

Increasing retail fuel prices has spurred a consumer interest in requiring retailers to install temperature compensation technology at the fuel pump.  Liquids expand and contract depending on the temperature of the liquid. The standard gallon volume is measured at a temperature of 60 F° but the calibration and testing of the meter currently does not require compensation for temperature differences from 60 F°.  The California Energy Commission and the Division of Measurement Standards conducted a state wide survey in 2007-2008 in order to determine the average seasonal temperature of dispensed fuel at retail establishments and the feasibility of requiring retailers to install automatic temperature compensation (ATC) technology at the dispenser. The report concluded that the cost of installing the equipment would be passed on to consumers.  The report’s cost benefit analyses concluded that there wouldn’t be an immediate benefit to consumers in the form of lower fuel prices.

The existing non-temperature compensation meters currently installed sometimes benefit consumers and sometimes benefit the retailer dependent on temperature of the dispensed fuel.  The 150 page report is available for public review at the California Energy Commission’s website at www.energy.ca.gov.

Here are a few tips that might help with your monthly fuel expenditures.  Compare fuel prices as you drive throughout the county and cities that you visit on a regular basis.  Certain fuel stations charge higher prices because of their prime location.  Fuel stations near busy freeways or highways tend to charge higher prices as well as fuel stations located in more affluent neighborhoods.

To improve your fuel mileage out of your vehicle, make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition.  Periodically check your vehicle's tires for proper inflation.  Include smooth stops and starts as part of your driving routine.  This will increase your engine's fuel consumption efficiencies and make a gallon of fuel stretch further. Carpool with friends and coworkers or take public transportation if it is available in your area.  Every little bit of energy conservation helps to ease the demands on your pocketbook.

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