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California berry grower to pay penalties for pesticide drift incident

On June 28, 2017, a drift incident of agricultural pesticides occurred on the Hartnell Ranch of Reiter Berry Farms in Salinas. As a result, Reiter - an independent grower for Driscoll’s - will have to pay $195,200 in civil penalties and costs. Gilbert Yerena, VP Production with Reiter Berry Farms has issued the following statement.

The incident affected a harvesting crew of agricultural workers at a neighboring ranch operated by an independent farm labor contractor. Fortunately, all the farm workers involved in the drift incident were feeling better within hours and immediate action was taken to notify the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner.

“At Reiter Berry Farms, our highest priority is the safety and welfare of our employees and community members. While this incident resulted in a monetary civil penalty, it more importantly allowed us the opportunity to make continued improvements to our protocols, processes and safety procedures on our ranches. Since that time, actions have been taken to mitigate similar incidents from occurring in the future, which included additional educational training of ranch personnel, audits, as well as improvements to our Pesticide Use Reporting procedures.”

“Although this was our first-ever event of this type in the history of our organization, it challenges us to continue to place our highest priority on the safety and welfare of our employees and community members. We are committed to living our values of honesty, fairness and respect, and will continue to improve upon our best farming and safety practices for the long-term benefit of all agricultural workers and our greater community.”

For more information:
Courtney Catalano
Reiter Berry Farms
Tel: 805-407-2413

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