February 1, 2011
Among the many crops produced in Monterey County, strawberries rank No. 1, producing gross revenues of $756 million in 2009. This is according to the Monterey County Crop Report of 2009, as reported in The Salinas Californian on June 23, 2010.
Harvesting strawberries is labor intensive, requiring large numbers of field workers who receive fair wages and benefits for their hard work and expertise. Anti-pesticide groups and farm-worker advocates have launched an effort to block the fumigant methyl iodide on strawberry fields, to replace methyl bromide, which was deemed unsafe.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation study of methyl iodide was the most comprehensive, thoughtful, and detailed review that has been done in recent memory. In my 60-year career in agriculture, and as a licensed pest-control adviser, I have gained respect for the CDPR in its efforts to protect producers and consumers of California crops.
Methyl iodide is licensed for use in 47 other states. If it is not used on strawberry fields in Monterey County, this crop will become extinct here. The consumer will ultimately have to pay the high price for imported strawberries produced in other states and countries where fumigation is allowed.