Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Report

Written By: Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures
Published: November 2, 2018

Illegal Live Animal Intercepted

The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures plays many roles within our community. The Department’s mission is to promote and protect agriculture, the health and safety of our community, environment, and economy through the education and the enforcement of laws and regulations. The Department has a variety of different programs to support this mission. One in particular, which safeguards not only our agricultural industry, but also our environment and natural resources, is the Pest Exclusion Program at parcel facilities.

Every day, hundreds of packages containing plant material and live animals come into our county through our parcel facilities. Each package has the potential to contain invasive and unwanted pests. To protect against this, a staff biologist visits the parcel facilities, checking any packages containing plant material and/or animals. Invasive pests have the potential to grow exponentially with a lack of natural predators or competition in the wild. Control measures are a costly and time-consuming endeavor that affects everyone through loss and alteration of habitat.

The Department recently intercepted a package containing a prohibited animal. On Tuesday, September 18, 2018 biologist Pierpaolo Aymar was conducting package reviews at FedEx in Petaluma when he intercepted a package labeled “Live Fish”. The package contained what was later identified as an Alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) by biologist David Jagdeo. Eventually, the company responsible for the sale and shipment confirmed the identification. Alligator gars are prohibited in California and the fish was promptly turned over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It now resides in the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences.

Alligator gar can grow up to 10 feet and weigh as much as 350 pounds. Gars prefer shallow, warm, freshwater habitats and are the top predator in their environment. They primarily eat fish, but have been known to eat crabs, crustaceans, waterfowl, small mammals, and turtles. If gars were to become established in California, they would threaten native populations such as salmon and trout.

While the Department has many roles within our community to promote and protect agriculture, our pest exclusion program is at the frontlines in intercepting and safeguarding our environment and natural resources from invasive pests and disease. For additional information regarding our pest exclusion program, please contact our office at (707) 565-2371.

Image of specimen found at terminal during inspection. Specimen measured approximately 6” in length. Photo credit: Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures.

Image of adult gar. Photo credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife.

European Grapevine Moth Recap

As many of you know, back in 2016, the European Grapevine Moth (EGVM) was declared eradicated and the United States Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture removed all areas under quarantine. This was an incredible accomplishment and concluded a seven-year battle against this pest.

But the battle still continues in the form of a detection and monitoring program. We just concluded the second year of the “post eradication program”, and we will continue a trapping program in 2019. We expect to start trap deployment in mid-February and continue the trapping program through mid-September, at a similar level as the previous seasons. We deployed and serviced 5,521 traps in the 2018 growing season, and submitted 65 samples to the state diagnostic lab, with all coming back negative for EGVM. There were no EGVM finds throughout the state this season.

The success of this program hinges on the partnership we have with the winegrape industry, and the Department would like to thank the growers for their cooperation while we continue to monitor for this pest.

Annual Grower Workshop Topics

As was announced last month, this year’s Annual Certified Private Applicator Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, 2018 at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. Registration begins at 8:00 am and the workshop will begin at 9:00 am. Topics will include pesticide use near schools, worker protection standards and fieldworker training, cannabis update, Vine Mealybug and other pests, and a vineyard and erosion control update. For additional information, please visit our website at

User Requirements for Commercial Devices

You have purchased a commercial device such as a scale, and you are ready to jump in the local economy as a buyer or seller of commodities. As required by law, the scale has been registered, tested, and certified by the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures. California’s Code of Regulations, Title 4, Division 9 has additional requirements which apply to not only device manufactures, regulators, and testers of commercial devices, but also device owners/operators using these devices. There are additional requirements under which the devices must be used to ensure the devices remain accurate and the use is fair to the buyer and seller. Below are just a few of the regulations worth noting:

Suitability of Equipment. Commercial equipment shall be suitable for the service in which it is used with respect to elements of its design, including but not limited to its weighing capacity (for weighing devices), its computing capability (for computing devices), its rate of flow (for liquid-measuring devices), the character, number, size, and location of its indicating or recording elements, and the value of its smallest unit and unit prices.

Environment. Equipment shall be suitable for the environment in which it is used including, but not limited to, the effect of wind, weather and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI).

Installation. A device shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction, including any instructions marked on the device. A device installed in a fixed location shall be installed so that neither its operation nor its performance will be adversely affected by any characteristic of the foundation, supports, or any other detail of the installation.

Position of Equipment. A device or system equipped with a primary indicating element and used in direct sales, except for prescription scales, shall be positioned so that its indications may be accurately read and the weighing or measuring operation may be observed from some reasonable “customer” and “operator” position. The permissible distance between the equipment and a reasonable customer and operator position shall be determined in each case upon the basis of the individual circumstances, particularly the size and character of the indicating element.

Maintenance of Equipment. All equipment in service and all mechanisms and devices attached thereto or used in connection there with shall be continuously maintained in proper operating condition throughout the period of such service

If you have any questions regarding weights and measures California laws and regulations, please call our office at (707) 565-2371.

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