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State settles Ag-Mart case


RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) -- After five years, the case involving Ag-Mart and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture has come to an end.

Workers at Ag-Mart's North Carolina farms say their children suffered severe birth defects as a result of pesticide misuse. One woman, who was pregnant when she worked for Ag-Mart, had a son born with no arms and no legs.

The North Carolina Pesticide Board found the company's regional manager guilty of almost 50 pesticide violations at farms in Brunswick and Pender Counties. Ag-Mart appealed the decision and agreed on a settlement today.

"What North Carolina has done in bringing this case forward has made it better for tomato workers all over the country, because growers are aware of this case," said Jim Burnette of the Pesticide Board. "It's gotten national publicity, and they're aware that in North Carolina at least, we will do everything we can to protect workers."

The settlement dismisses the case from Superior Court in Wake County. Ag-Mart must pay the Department of Agriculture $25,000 and promote a new comprehensive education program for pesticide safety.

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