Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA): Agriculture-Related Enforcement Cases 1999 and 2000
The following are agriculture-related enforcement cases pertaining to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act. This information is provided for reference. Over time, links to news items may become unavailable. In these cases the item will remain listed, but no link will be provided. Also, please be aware that the information in any particular article may be outdated or superseded by additional information.
EPA Enforcement Cases 1999 and 2000
- November 21, 2000: Convictions on 35 Federal Violations in Montana
- January 18, 2000: Agway Pays EPA Penalty for Violations at Five NY Locations for Chemical Reporting Violations
- September 23, 1999: Hawaii Farm Owner Pleads Guilty to Pesticide Crime
- April 2, 1999: Two Louisiana Men Sentenced for Pesticide Crime
- January 8, 1999: Tennessee Man Sentenced for Pesticide Misuse
November 21, 2000Convictions on 35 Federal Violations in Montana
The part-owner of AG Wise Inc., an agricultural supply store located in the area of Kremlin, Mont., was convicted on Nov.15, in U.S. District Court in Helena on 35 counts of violating federal laws. A jury found the man guilty of conspiring to smuggle, smuggling and money laundering with respect to a scheme to illegally import a formulation of the herbicide "Roundup," the sale of which is prohibited in the United States because it can cause severe and irreversible eye damage. The court ruled that the defendant must forfeit $641,000. On Nov.13, several of the part-owner's co-defendants also pleaded guilty. One man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle the prohibited herbicide known as "Roundup Export" into the United States. Another man pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of a pesticide that is not registered for sale in the United States. A third man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. All defendants in this case are scheduled to be sentenced in February. The defendants' actions led to the illegal importation of approximately 24,000 gallons of Roundup Export into the United States between 1995 and 1998. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Internal Revenue Service with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Helena prosecuted the case.
January 18, 2000Agway Pays EPA Penalty for Violations at Five NY Locations for Chemical Reporting Violations
Syracuse, New York-based agricultural corporation Agway, Inc. has settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on charges that it failed to submit information about chemicals at five Agway facilities in New York state. Agway has paid a penalty of $45,000 in the settlement, and has agreed to comply with all of EPA's chemical reporting requirements in the future.
The case against Agway stemmed from an October 1997 EPA inspection of an Agway feed processing plant at 44-50 Montgomery Street in Binghamton, New York. EPA found that the facility had not filed on-time Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data for manganese compounds from 1994 to 1996, zinc compounds for 1995 and 1996 and cobalt compounds for 1995. Companies like Agway that manufacture, process, import or otherwise use such chemicals above a certain amount must submit TRI forms to EPA giving detailed information about them by July 1 of every year. The information includes how the chemicals were used, and whether they were released into the environment, recycled, treated or disposed-of. Chemical data from companies and facilities around the nation are then compiled by EPA into a Toxic Release Inventory report, which is made available to the public every year to help people know more about the chemicals present in their local environment.
After EPA filed a complaint against Agway for the violations at the Binghamton plant, the company voluntarily disclosed similar violations at four other New York Agway plants: 888 Wortendyke Road in Batavia (Genesee County); Building 16 Guilderland Center in Guilderland Center (Albany county); Clark's Corner Road in Kennedy (Chautauqua county); and Route 20 in Sangerfield (Oneida County). Chemical reporting violations at the four additional plants involved the same chemicals as in the Binghamton case, with the exception of the Batavia facility, which had not reported TRI data for copper compounds in 1994 and 1996. Agway submitted all of the missing data by October 1999.
"The TRI program is one of the best ways for people to find out what is happening in their local environment, but it is only as good as the information it contains," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator.
"This is why we expect any company that deals with toxic chemicals to adhere to all of our regulations -- particularly those that help us make information more accessible to communities. When a company does fall into non-compliance as in the case of Agway we strongly recommend that it self-disclose the problem promptly and cooperate with EPA to ensure that the violations are not repeated." Agway, Inc. is an agricultural cooperative owned by 80,000 farmer members with headquarters in Syracuse, New York. The company employs 5,000 people at approximately 800 locations, and reported $1.7 billion in sales and revenue for fiscal year 1997.
September 23, 1999Hawaii Farm Owner Pleads Guilty to Pesticide Crime
The owner of a ginger root farm in Hilo, Hawaii pleaded guilty on Sept. 13, in U.S. District Court in Honolulu to illegally using the restricted use pesticide "Nemacur" on his ginger root crop in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The farm owner also admitted to misleading a government official in order to conceal his crime. He directed workers to apply Nemacur to his ginger root crop, even though Nemacur is prohibited for use on ginger root. After the worker was injured, the farm owner deliberately failed to disclose that his worker had applied Nemacur when questioned by an Hawaii Department of Agriculture official who was conducting the investigation. When sentenced, the farm owner faces a maximum term of up to five years one month imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $255,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
April 2, 1999Two Louisiana Men Sentenced for Pesticide Crimes
A man from Independence, La., was sentenced on March 24 by the U.S. District Court in New Orleans to serve two years in prison and was ordered by the Court to pay a total of $131,104 in restitution for the unlawful distribution of the restricted use pesticide methyl parathion. On March 17, the U.S. District Court also sentenced another man from Independence, to serve five months in a halfway house, eight months home confinement and pay $61,500 in restitution for the unlawful sale and distribution of methyl parathion. According to information presented to the Court, each defendant illegally sold methyl parathion to individuals who were not trained or certified to use the pesticide. Furthermore, the defendants sold methyl parathion for the unlawful purpose of eradicating household insects. Methyl parathion may only legally be used as an outdoor insecticide in uninhabited agricultural fields where sunlight dramatically reduces its toxicity. When used indoors, methyl parathion can remain highly toxic for up to two years, and exposure to sufficient quantities of the pesticide can produce nausea, vomiting, convulsions and death. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
January 8, 1999Tennessee Man Sentenced for Pesticide Misuse
The owner of Kelly's Spraying Service in Memphis, Tenn. was sentenced on December 30, 1998 to serve 20 months in prison and was also ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to EPA by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis, Tenn. The owner was convicted of charges that he purchased at least 280 gallons of the pesticide methyl parathion in Mississippi under the false pretense that it would be used for agricultural purposes. He also was convicted of illegally applying the pesticide in homes in the Memphis area. Methyl parathion, also known as "cotton poison," is a highly toxic substance, which is only approved for outdoor use in uninhabited agricultural fields where sunlight rapidly reduces its toxicity. When applied indoors it can remain toxic for up to two years, and can cause headache, nausea, convulsions, coma and death. Evidence introduced at the trial indicated that the owner did not warn his customers of the dangerous nature of the pesticides he was applying, even when his customers asked. Hundreds of the owner's customers were exposed to high levels of methyl parathion, which caused many of them to become ill. The case was investigated by EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.