Incoming Plant Material Shipments

As we transition from the winter months into spring and summer, we see an uptick in the amount of plant material being shipped into our county.  The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (AWM) is tasked with protecting and promoting agriculture and one of the first lines of defense is to inspect all incoming plant material which is subject to a quarantine hold and shipped into Sonoma County.

Most of the incoming plant material shipments we encounter are from Southern California and subject to a Glassy-winged Sharpshooter quarantine and there are certain requirements that must be met to be allowed entry into Sonoma County.  Additionally, we see a significant amount of material coming from out of state, such as Washington and Oregon both subject to differing quarantines.  Shipping nurseries must meet all quarantine requirements to allow entry into Sonoma County.  By inspecting these shipments, we can inspect paperwork and plant material to ensure requirements have been met, the plants meet pest cleanliness standards, and to allow entry.  If these requirements are not met, the shipping nursery needs to correct any paperwork errors or take back any infested material.

Nurseries shipping plant material subject to a quarantine must ship those items under a quarantine hold notice and notify our office of each shipment.  Additionally, the receiver must notify our office when the material is delivered so we can inspect and release the material.  Material under a federal or state quarantine is on hold until inspected by AWM and shall not be moved, planted, or put into inventory until it has been cleared.

AWM is tasked with protecting agriculture and the environment by inspecting incoming plant material shipments.  The establishment of quarantine pests in Sonoma County would be detrimental and costly to the agriculture industry.  Please do your part in helping us protect agriculture and notify our office of all incoming plant material shipments under a quarantine hold notice.  If you are unsure whether a shipment you have received needs inspecting, please call the main office at (707) 565-2371 and we can help.

Seasonal Pest Control Reminders

As the growing season ramps up, the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (AWM) would like to remind everyone to use care when it comes to pesticide applications.  Misuse of pesticides isn’t just wasteful and ineffective, it can damage crops, contaminate the environment, and result in injuries to employees and/or bystanders.  The proper use of pesticides ensures that these tools will be available to combat pests into the future.  Here are a few reminders to ensure that your pesticide application remains in regulatory compliance:

  • Read the pesticide label before, during, and after working with a pesticide.  Ensure that pesticide applicators understand the pesticide label requirements.  Pesticide labels change.  The pesticide label delivered with your pesticide is the one you must follow.
  • Ensure that pesticide spray equipment is shut down during turns at the end of rows.  Applying pesticides off target wastes product and can potentially expose neighbors or bystanders to pesticide spray. 
  • Ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided to and used by pesticide handlers.  PPE often will mitigate the risk of serious injuries from exposures to pesticide materials. 
  • Check that nearby decontamination equipment is collected together and restocked with plenty of clean water, soap, single use towels, and a change of coveralls. 
  • Ensure that you have communicated with fieldworker crews about pesticides and that they know where to go to get information on the latest pesticide applications. 

An extended rainy season may result in standing water in many fields throughout the County.  It is important that pesticide applications avoid directing sprays onto standing water.  Contaminating standing water is prohibited by many pesticide labels and may result in violations of regulations protecting the environment. 

AWM is proud to be a resource for the region.  Please reach out to (707) 565-2371 or email if you are interested in compliance assistance and would like to have any questions answered.

Vineyard/Orchard Site Development (VESCO) Permit Renewals

There is some good news for vineyard owners and managers that would like to have some flexibility in how they manage their vineyard properties.  As you know, VESCO permits, including agricultural grading and drainage permits, are valid for five years from the date they are issued.   In early 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the development of a renewal process that allows these permits to be renewed once for an additional five years of validity as long as the request is made prior to the permit expiration date.  This renewal process was enacted to give property owners more time and flexibility to observe the markets and make land use decisions based on their business needs.  Now when an applicant receives a VESCO permit, they may plan to have a ten-year time period in which they can manage their permitted project area in any way they need as long as they adhere to the standards in Chapter 36 of the Sonoma County Code.  This means, for example, they may rotate in another agricultural crop, use the land for grazing, or try a completely different use as long as the standards in Chapter 36 are met.

The standards in Chapter 36 include such things as, but not limited to, requirements for all disturbed areas within a project site to be protected by cover crop or mulch and grass seed by October 15 for new developments or November 15 for replants.  Setbacks from streams, ponds, and wetlands need to be observed throughout the life of the VESCO permit and same applies to any riparian corridor protections.  Soil disturbance is prohibited during the winter months according to the ordinance.

For a full understanding of the requirements of VESCO permitting and the standards in Chapter 36 of the Sonoma County Code, please visit our website at 

Packers and Stockyards Program

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), under the authority of the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA), now requires each stockyard owner, market agency, dealer, packer, or live poultry dealer who weighs livestock, live poultry, or feed for purposes of purchase, sale, acquisition, payment, or settlement, or who weighs livestock carcasses for the purpose of purchase on a carcass weight basis, or who furnishes scales for such purposes, have such scales tested at least twice during each calendar year at intervals not to exceed 6 months.  Scale test results must then be provided to the Packers and Stockyard Program’s (P&SP) Western Regional Office in Aurora, Colorado.  

Scale testing must meet all applicable requirements of the 2009 edition of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 44, ‘‘Specifications, Tolerances, and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices”.  For additional information on services that the Packers and Stockyard Programs offer and the Packers and Stockyard Act of 1921, please visit their website at  

If you operate a livestock scale and need your scale certified, contact our office at (707) 565-2371 and ask to speak with a Weights & Measures Inspector about scheduling an appointment to have your scale certified prior to shipping your livestock.  The livestock scale registration fees paid to the county covers the cost of one annual scale inspection.