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Berry farm paying nearly $200K after alleged pesticide drift sickens 27 agricultural workers

Brian Prechtel / USDA

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Reiter Berry Farms will pay nearly $200,000 to settle a pesticide drift case from June 2017. The Monterey County District Attorney's Office said 27 berry harvesters were sickened as a result of the farm's pesticide drift.

The incident happened when Reiter Berry Farms employees applied pesticides, adjuvants and fertilizers to the Hartnell Ranch in Salinas at around 5:30 a.m. About an hour later, harvesters arrived at a neighboring farm and started harvesting. The DA's office said that within two hours, the crew started showing symptoms of pesticide exposure, including vomiting, nausea, dizziness, eye irritation and headaches.

Reiter Berry Farms self-reported the incident the same day, and the Agricultural Commissioner's Office investigated it. That office provided the DA's office an opportunity to pursue action.

Reiter Berry Farms, which markets its berries under the Driscoll's label, will pay $195,200 and agreed to an injunction that requires them to give 24 hours notice to neighboring properties before pesticide application.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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