The California Rice Commission is a state statutory organization established by the legislature and operates under Division 22, Chapter 9.5, Section 71000-71138 of the California Food and Agricultural Code.
By statute, the Commission represents the entirety of the state's rice industry including all rice growers and handlers who farm and process rice produced on approximately 500,000 acres annually. The Commission operates under the overview of the California Secretary of Agriculture.
The Commission engages in a number of comprehensive regulatory programs on behalf of the industry. Of greatest interest to the Regional Board is the Rice Pesticides Program, as mandated under the Basin Plan. The Commission has managed and funded the majority of this program since 1999 and took over full responsibility for funding and reporting from the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) in 2003.
The Commission has a stable source of income through the assessment paid by all growers and marketers of rice in the state. This mandatory fees provides consistent income to conduct monitoring in support of the in the Rice Pesticides Program and other regulatory programs of the industry.
The Commission is uniquely able to manage water quality programs and develop and implement practices to ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Representing all of the state's rice growers, the Commission identifies management practices and regulations necessary to improve and maintain water quality in the state. These regulations are in the form of label restrictions or permit conditions for pesticides used in rice production. Past examples include adoption of water hold periods for rice herbicides and application buffer zones.
The Commission maintains an active industry communications program. Monthly newsletters and grower letters offer an opportunity to communicate with each producer on a regular basis. In coordination with the Regional Board, we also conduct grower meetings specifically addressing changes in the Rice Pesticide Program and the need to comply with all elements of the program. These communications, especially the annual grower meetings, have been very successful in emphasizing the importance of water quality to our grower community.
The Commission will continue this effective and efficient approach to meet future water quality requirements under a rice specific waiver.
When enforcement actions are necessary, the Commission works in close coordination with the Central Valley Regional Water Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation and County Agricultural Commissioners to identify enforcement needs. In recent years, the Commission has contracted with County Agricultural Commissioners to conduct additional inspections and enforcement activities. This additional activity is directly in support of the Rice Pesticides Program, as required in the Basin Plan.
The Commission will continue to work closely with existing enforcement agencies including the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation and County Agricultural Commissioners to identify necessary enforcement actions.
For the purposes of the rice specific waiver we will follow these proven steps when monitoring indicates addition industry action is need to meet of maintain water quality standards:
- Identify and implement management practices to mitigate impacts.
- Identify and implement permit conditions and other regulatory mechanisms to reduce impacts.
- Actively communicate with the rice industry water quality problems and industry steps taken to address them.
- Contract, as needed, for additional inspections by County Agricultural Commissioners.
- Work with Regional Board and County Agricultural Commissioners to identify needed enforcement activity based on monitoring results and inspections.