Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
California’s diverse agricultural economy produces more than one-half of the nation fruits and vegetables. California produces over 350 commodities and leads the nation in production of 85 commodities, including produce and nursery crops; many are grown nowhere else. California’s Central Valley is the most ethnically diverse rural area in the world, and California employs 25% of the total US hired agricultural labor force, far more than any other state. California alone accounts for 20% of all US farm exports.
The intensity of crop agriculture in California exacts environmental costs. California leads the nation in pesticide use, with 20 percent of the national total. Pesticides also contribute emissions of volatile organic compounds that are precursors to smog formation, and tillage and harvest operations emit particulate matter. Agriculture is also the leading source of surface water impairments, and nitrate contamination of groundwater from fertilizer application as well as from manure and human sewage is widespread in rural California. These are among the issues that Region 9 works to address in the field of agriculture.
Programs & Resources
The Strategic Agricultural Initiative (SAI) is an innovative partnership between EPA and the agricultural community. SAI promotes the transition away from higher-risk pesticides to agricultural and pest management practices that are economically viable and protect human health and the environment. SAI Regional Specialists work with growers to develop and access new tools necessary to make this transition.