Hearing delayed for farm worker protection bill - there's still time to act!
North Carolina's more than 150,000 farm workers and their families face serious health risks from exposure to agricultural pesticides. The tragic birth defects among workers' children brought to light by the Ag-Mart case underline a critical message, that workers are not the only people at risk when employers skirt the law - their children are, too.
H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers, was expected to be heard in the NC House Agriculture Committee this week, but it's been postponed until next Wednesday - that means there's still time to act! Please take a minute to contact your Representative and committee Chairman Dewey Hill right now in support of this important legislation.
The state’s pesticide law should be fair and enforceable - it needs to be strong enough to protect workers and their families, even when big corporations challenge it in court. But, North Carolina's pesticide law treats huge, high-risk cases like the Ag-Mart case the same as minor violations, and that’s not fair to workers or to growers who work hard to comply with the law. Ag-Mart was able to walk away from a case of hundreds of alleged violations of our pesticide law with a slap on the wrist: a mere $3,000 fine. We need to make sure that this cannot happen again in North Carolina.
The worker protection standards currently in place under our state pesticide law are very difficult to enforce, and penalties – even for the most serious violations – are shamefully low. H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers, would strengthen three parts of the NC Pesticide Law that have made it so difficult to protect workers and their families from pesticides:
- Require agricultural employers to maintain accurate records to document compliance with the Worker Protection Standard. Under the current law, there is no record-keeping requirement when workers are sent back into fields that have been sprayed.
- Add a confidentiality clause that enables agricultural employees to confidentially file a complaint about workplace pesticide safety violations. Under the current law, agricultural workers cannot file confidential complaints.
- Pesticide violations are very difficult to uphold. Under the current law, the maximum pesticide fine is only $500, and the state must prove that a violation is “willful” in order to issue the fine. H 1052 would preserve lower fines for minor violations and small farmers, remove the “willful” requirement, and create a higher category of fines for the most serious violations.
Please take action today to help this important legislation pass the first of many hurdles it will face before it can become law. >>Take Action
>>More background information
Take Action before Wednesday, May 13th at noon
Please email or call your NC Representative, as well as Representative Dewey Hill, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and ask them to support H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers. Here is a sample letter which you can use for your email or phone call.
>>Look up contact information for your Representative on the NC General Assembly's website.
Contact information for House Agriculture Committee chair, Rep. Dewey Hill:
Rep. Dewey L. Hill
NC House of Representatives
16 W. Jones Street, Room 1309
Raleigh, NC 27603-1096
||Please contact Toxic Free
or (919) 833-1123 to let us know you're taking
action, or if you have any questions. Thank you!
Instructions: Copy and paste the text below into the body of an email to your representative (look up your representative), and to Agriculture Committee chair Rep. Dewey Hill (Dewey.Hill@ncleg.net). Please feel free to customize your email subject and text, and be sure to add the information [IN BRACKETS]. Or, you can call both Representatives, and use this sample text as a guide for your message or conversation.
Subject: Please support H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers
Dear Representative [YOUR REPRESENTATIVE] and Chairman Hill,
The North Carolina Pesticide Law should provide safe, healthy workplaces for all who work in agriculture. That is why I urge you to support H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers. This important legislation would allow workers to make confidential reports of pesticide problems at work; require the NC Pesticide Board to adopt rules on record-keeping when workers are sent back into fields after spraying; and strengthen the penalties for the most serious pesticide violations.
As we learned from the tragic birth defects among workers' children brought to light by the recent Ag-Mart case, workers are not the only ones facing serious health risks from pesticides - their children are also at risk. Ag-Mart walked away from that case with a slap on the wrist. That’s unfair to workers, and unfair to the farmers who work hard every day to comply with the law
Please support H 1052 to make agricultural work safer for everyone who works in North Carolina, and their families too.
[YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION - PLEASE
INCLUDE YOUR HOME ADDRESS]
Links to more Background Information
>>Full text and status of H 1052, Strengthen Pesticide Law for Workers, on the NC General Assembly's website.
>>Background on farm workers and pesticides
>>Stories about farm workers and pesticides from our blog
>>News coverage of the Ag-Mart case from the Raleigh News & Observer and the Palm Beach Post (FL).
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Toxic Free North Carolina
115 South St. Mary's St., Suite D, Raleigh, NC 27603, (919) 833-5333,
: Toxic Free NC advocates
for alternatives to toxic pesticides in North Carolina
by empowering people to make sound decisions about their
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