Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer (1260B)

Program Outcome Statement

To protect agricultural and environmental resources, ensure the safe use of pesticides, prevent the introduction of invasive pests, provide consumer protection, and ensure equity in the marketplace thru the enforcement of State and Federal statutes and policies concerning agriculture and weights and measures.

Program Services

  • Inspect and ensure agricultural commodities entering County are free from State and federally regulated pests and diseases
  • Monitor County for State and federally regulated invasive pests through insect pest detection trapping
  • Enforce pesticide regulations to ensure pesticides are used lawfully, in accordance with regulations, and without impacts on health, safety or the environment.
  • Ensure weights and measures devices such as gas pumps, scanners, and scales are correct and accurate to protect consumers and industry from deceptive practices.


Pest Prevention inspections are performed at SFO, express carriers, wholesale and retail nurseries, and insect pest detection trap sites. Activities and services are conducted and reimbursed via State agreements subvention, and industry fees. All these programs are mandated by State law. Early detection of harmful agricultural pests is facilitated by the placement of 5,257 insect traps throughout the County that are serviced 59,160 times each year.
The Pesticide Regulatory program focuses on applicator and fieldworker safety, endangered species protection, health and environmental impacts, and monitoring of pesticide applications at sensitive sites. Pesticide regulatory oversight is provided for the agricultural industry, pest control businesses, and the general public.
Department Standardization programs regulate growers selling direct to consumers thru Certified Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s). Standardization programs ensure agricultural commodities such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey, meet State standards and are traceable in the event of a food borne illness incident. The program also ensures agricultural commodities represented as organic, are free from pesticides and in compliance with the National Organic Program and State standards. The Phytosanitary Certification program inspects agricultural commodities going for export to determine whether they meet the entry requirements of the destination country or state, and issues documentation attesting to that status when they do.
Weights and Measures staff inspect businesses to ensure weighing and measuring devices and price scanner systems are accurate and in compliance with State regulations. Weights and Measures complaints received from consumers, the District Attorney’s Office, or State Division of Measurement Standards are investigated promptly.

Percent of SFO Agricultural Shipments Inspected with Actionable Pests is at Benchmark Level

Percent of Licensed Businesses in Compliance with Pesticide Regulations Exceeds Target Level

Average Cost per Weights & Measures Device Inspected is Above Target

FY 2018-19 Mid-Year Story Behind Performance

SFO Agricultural Shipments Found With Actionable Pests Compared to Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
The Pest Prevention program regulates regional and interstate agricultural shipments entering California through San Mateo County to ensure they are free from invasive species and comply with State quarantine laws and regulations.  The Department Performance Measure for Fiscal Year 2018-19 is the percentage of shipments inspected and found with actionable pests at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The benchmark is the percentage of shipments found with actionable pests at airports in Los Angeles County where similar inspections are performed at LAX. At the midpoint of Fiscal Year 2018-19, the percentage of SFO Shipments found with actionable pests is at the benchmark level.
Licensed Businesses in Compliance with Pesticide Regulations
Pest control businesses that apply pesticides must be licensed by the State and register annually with the Department to facilitate inspection and verify compliance with State laws and regulations.  There were changes to worker safety requirements for production agriculture operations during 2017 and 2018 as well as restricting pesticide use near schools. Increased pest control business surveillance and inspection in suburban and urban areas has resulted in enforcement actions against unregistered businesses from outside of the County providing pest control services for residents.  To improve compliance, the Department conducts outreach to growers, golf courses, cemeteries, cities and pest control businesses concerning regulations, and provides continuing education for licensed pesticide users and growers. The percentage of businesses in compliance with regulations remains the same, reflecting our Department’s continuing outreach efforts and commitment to full countywide compliance with safety laws and regulations.

Weights & Measures Device Inspected

The Department inspects commercial weighing and measuring devices to protect the consumer and ensure equity in the marketplace. We developed a "cost per device" inspection benchmark performance measure by gathering end-of-year financial reports from California’s Division of Measurement Standards for other Association of Bay Area Government (ABAG) counties. Fiscal Year 2017-18 is the fourth year this data has been gathered. The costs for the San Mateo County weights and measures device inspection program are lower than those of neighboring counties. These devices are generally inspected on a calendar year basis so when using fiscal year data the number of devices inspected per County may vary. The Department assigned new staff to conduct inspections, which resulted in a slight decrease of cost per device. Fiscal Year 2018-19 figures will be available in January 2020. 

Future Priorities

  • The Department’s management team has prioritized regular individual meetings with staff and annual performance evaluations for all employees. We exceeded the Countywide target of 90 percent in FY 15-16, FY 16-17 and met the target in FY 17-18. The management team continues to meet with staff on a regular basis and is prepared to exceed our target in FY 18-19.
  • We developed a "cost per capita” benchmark performance measure by gathering end-of-year financial reports from County Departments of Agriculture and Weights and Measures that are ABAG counties. FY 17-18 is the fourth year we have compiled and compared this data to our department’s costs as an indicator of efficiency. FY 17-18 actuals are now available and compared against the benchmark and target levels. FY 17-18 are used for FY 18-19 projections.
  • The Department met the countywide target of 90 percent Customer Survey Respondents Rating Services Good or Better during FY 17-18. The Department has a goal of increasing the number of survey responses and has implemented additional distribution practices to achieve this goal in FY 18-19. Our customer survey is available on our website. We also distribute the survey on a postcard and send emails to customers with a link to the survey.

Author: Alberto Hernandez, Management Analyst     Contact Email:
Updated : 1/25/2019