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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Ag-Mart' Category


25
Feb

State Fails To Protect Workers in Pesticide Lawsuit

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2009) After three years of legal battle, the North Carolina Pesticide Board on February 19, 2009 fined Florida-based Ag-Mart Produce Inc. a substantially lower fine of $3,000 than the originally proposed $185,000, after deciding that it can only prove six of about 200 worker safety accusations that had been levied against the company. This comes less than a month after the unprecedented ruling against Ag-Mart in New Jersey, where the company was ordered to pay penalties of more than $931,000 for misusing pesticides and jeopardizing the health and safety of workers in its New Jersey farm fields and packing houses. The Florida-based company, described as one of the biggest pesticide offenders, has been accused of routinely exposing hundreds of workers to toxic chemicals. Investigators in North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey, the three states where the international company grows its tomatoes, scrutinized the company’s records and charged it with ignoring laws intended to keep workers safe from toxic pesticide residue. The investigators alleged workers were sent into the fields too soon after dangerous chemicals had been sprayed. The case started three years ago when some workers gave birth to babies with severe birth defects. One mother […]

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03
Feb

New Jersey Issues Record Fine, Nearly $1 Million, for Pesticide Use Violation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2009) A corporate tomato grower faces an unprecedented penalty of more than $931,000 for misusing pesticides and jeopardizing the health and safety of workers in its New Jersey farm fields and packing houses, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello announced January 30, 2009. In its enforcement action, the DEP cites Ag-Mart Produce Inc., headquartered in Cedarville, Cumberland County, with hundreds of violations that include denying state environmental inspectors access to facilities, losing track of a highly toxic insecticide, failing to properly ventilate areas during pesticide use, failing to post important pesticide-safety information for workers, careless recordkeeping and using forbidden mixtures of pesticides. Ag-Mart Produce widely markets its tomatoes under the brand name “Santa Sweets,” and employs 700 people throughout 17 farm locations in New Jersey. Ag-Mart also owns and operates other produce farms in North Carolina, Florida and Mexico. “Ag-Mart has repeatedly shown a stunning disregard of laws and regulations intended to protect the workers who harvest their tomatoes, the people who consume them and New Jersey’s environment,” Commissioner Mauriello said. “Ag-Mart’s pesticide violations are the most serious DEP inspectors have ever uncovered. We have imposed a record-high penalty not […]

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11
Sep

Hearing Begins in North Carolina Pesticide Violations Case

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2008) The North Carolina Pesticide Board has begun hearing evidence in a case from 2004 over suspected pesticide violations that were investigated after three female Ag-Mart farmworkers gave birth to babies with severe birth defects. In 2006, the family of Carlos Herrera Candelario, who was born without arms or legs, sued Ag-Mart over illegal pesticide exposure resulting in the boy’s birth defects. The case was settled out of court, with Ag-Mart agreeing to pay the medical expenses of the boy for life and provide him with a permanent income, but insisting that the settlement was not an admission of guilt. The current hearing will look at whether Ag-Mart’s farm manager, Jeff Oxley, is indeed guilty of over 200 violations, including forcing workers into the field too soon after dangerous pesticides were applied. The hearing is significant because the company insists that adequate practices are and have been in place to ensure workers are not exposed to pesticides, even though the testimony of Ag-Mart employees runs counter to this claim. This hearing could do a great deal to elucidate the truth about farmworker pesticide exposure, an important issue for the thousands of workers who plant and harvest […]

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28
Mar

Ag-Mart Settles Birth Defect Case

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2008) Three years ago, Carlos Candelario was born without arms or legs and with spinal and lung deformities, birth defects caused by his mother’s exposure to multiple pesticides while working in Ag-Mart Produce fields during her pregnancy. His parents, Francisca Herrera and Abraham Candelario, sued the company in 2006, and last week’s settlement will provide for Carlos for the rest of his life, pending a judge’s approval. “I am as gratified about this case as any I’ve ever handled,” said attorney Andrew Yaffa. “This child has tremendous needs and needed somebody willing to speak on his behalf. Every medical need will be taken care of as a result of this settlement.” Ag-Mart has a history of state pesticide violations and use of extremely toxic pesticides (although in 2005, the company did agree to discontinue use of chemicals linked to reproductive risks, excepting methyl bromide, which is still in use). The company grows “UglyRipe” heirloom tomatoes and Santa Sweets grape tomatoes in a chemical-intensive operation. Ms. Herrera and Mr. Candelario worked alongside other migrant workers in North Carolina and Florida fields at the time of Ms. Herrera’s exposure. Both Florida and North Carolina have published reports on […]

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