Several produce and farm labor contractors are contesting fines they face in connection with two separate pesticide drifts in the Central Valley that sickened close to 130 agricultural workers last year.
In August the Kern County agricultural commissioner issued more than $50,000 in fines against two firms, including Sun Pacific, the produce company behind the popular Cuties oranges, for violating pesticide rules in an incident that sickened 37 farmworkers near the town of Maricopa in May.
Investigators determined that Vulcan, a pesticide with the chemical chlorpyrifos, had drifted a half-mile from a seedless tangerine field into an area where cabbage-harvesting employees were working.
The commissioner, Glenn Fankhauser, fined Sun Pacific more than $30,000 for violating five pesticide laws, including a violation for improperly spraying Vulcan.
Sun Pacific and the other firm penalized in the case, Grapeman Farms, which is facing $20,000 in fines, have appealed by requesting administrative hearings, according to Fankhauser.
Neither company has responded to requests for comment.