California strawberry farmers fear that EPA efforts to curb pesticide pollution could kill most of this year's crops, the AP reports. Ventura County growers, who produce 25% of the nation's berries, say the pesticides are needed to increase crop output. Requirements that fumigants be cut as much as half could reduce production by 7,500 acres, a "death blow" to the area that could cost tens of millions of dollars, one farmer said.
The regulations stem from California's long-neglected 1994 agreement to comply with the EPA's Clean Air Act. But the slash in this year's allowances is too much, too soon, say farmers, who argue that they may go broke and sell their land to developers who create more pollution. "Neither the federal government nor any other state has ever attempted to do anything like this before," one state official admitted.