Pesticide distributor fined for violations

U.S. EPA settles with Helena Agri-Enterprises for violating federal law at its California facilities, including Exeter’s

TULARE COUNTY – A pesticide distributor with offices in Exeter, Calif. has been fined for improperly handling, labeling and packaging pesticides.

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) at its establishments in Exeter, Oxnard, Modesto, and Kerman, Calif. The company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $88,000 and has certified they are now in compliance.

“Pesticide dealers must ensure that they manage and properly label pesticides to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA works closely with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation to ensure all California pesticide dealers comply with federal requirements.”

The case was referred to EPA by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) following DPR inspections at the four facilities in 2018 and 2019. The inspections found multiple violations of FIFRA requirements, including failure to seal cracks in containment structures and loading pads, insufficient capacity of containment structures, failure to generate and maintain repackaging records, failure to attach and maintain complete product labels, and offering for sale misbranded products.

“DPR inspectors travel the state to ensure agricultural dealerships are in compliance with federal pesticide rules and regulations,” said DPR Director Val Dolcini. “This settlement underscores the importance of DPR’s partnership with our federal colleagues at the U.S. EPA to enforce laws that protect public health and the environment.”

Federal pesticide laws require proper pesticide handling, labeling and packaging, as well as registration of pesticide products and pesticide production facilities. These requirements protect public health and the environment by minimizing the risks associated with the production, use, storage and disposal of pesticides.

The company was founded in 1957 by veteran Billy Mitchell in Helena, Ark., which is where the company gets its name. Helena is now one of the nation’s largest distributors of high-yield seed and seed treatments, fertilizer and application services, crop protectants and precision ag services working with major chemical manufacturers such as Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and Monsanto. Headquartered in Collierville, Tenn., Helena has close to 6,000 employees in over 500 branch locations all over the United States, including three locations in the Central Valley in Exeter, Kerman and Modesto, Calif.

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