Safe Ag, Safe Schools or SASS (formerly The Safe Strawberry Monterey Bay Working Group) is a coalition of 30-plus organizations and individuals working together to reduce pesticide exposure threats to the Monterey Bay region’s residents. Our focus is to keep school children safe from hazardous pesticides that causes harm to children such as asthma and developmental delays. 

The group was originally convened in response to a proposal to approve the carcinogenic fumigant pesticide methyl iodide on agricultural fields in California. As Safe Strawberry Monterey, the group successfully pushed the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution calling on the state to ban methyl iodide; this local campaign was an important part of the statewide movement that successfully forced methyl iodide’s withdrawal from the market in 2012. Currently, SSMCWG is focused on increasing grassroots pressure on government decision makers to phase out hazardous drift-prone pesticides over the long term, and taking action to reduce hazardous pesticide use near schools and residential communities in the shorter term.

To better protect our school children, we are calling for two policies to be enacted by the County Ag Commissioners or the department of Pesticide Regulation. These policies are to create a one-mile “buffer zone” around schools and a one-week advance notification to schools of any pesticide applications within one mile of school grounds. We consist of 400 community members on a voluntary basis and welcome anyone interested to come to our meetings. We hope to inform the people in the Monterey county about the issues of pesticide to be able to make a change and together keep schoolchildren safe. 

Safe Ag, Safe Schools has branches that meet in both the Salinas and Watsonville areas.