In the early 1900's, few rodenticide products were registered or available for agricultural use. The market was relatively small and private manufacturers were not generally involved in this pest management area. To address the serious vertebrate pest problems in the State, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) was active in developing and ultimately registering rodenticides and avicides for use against agricultural pests.
Today, CDFA maintains the registration of vertebrate pesticides that are sold by County Agricultural Commissioner offices. These materials, along with those registered by private manufacturers, are essential to farmers, public health agents and others to deal with the many vertebrate pest problems throughout the State.
In the 1980's, changes in federal law established new scientific requirements for all new and existing pesticides. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified California that it must submit additional scientific data about the toxicology, use and environmental fate of zinc phosphide and anticoagulant baits. Complex research projects, some costing well in excess of $100,000, were now required. If EPA did not get this requested data, the rodenticides would be prohibited from use in agriculture; a devastating consequence to California. Without effective control measures, CDFA estimated that growers could suffer additional damage losses exceeding $1 billion annually.
Clearly, CDFA was faced with a problem. Either spend millions of dollars to keep the materials necessary to protect California agriculture, or lose these remaining pest management tools. The problem was even worse because several very effective rodent control materials including Compound 1080 and the above ground uses of strychnine had already been lost. These two materials were lost as a direct result of CDFA not having the financial resources to meet EPA's registration requirements.