Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Florida News

Adam Putnam Let His Donors Get Away With Spraying Pesticides on Their Workers

BY Kevin Donohoe

TALLAHASSEE, FL – A devastating new report from The Tampa Bay Times revealed that Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture let a campaign donor off the hook after they sprayed pesticides on their workers.

According to the Times , after Duda Farms sprayed pesticides on their workers, they immediately donated money to Adam Putnam’s re-election campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. The Department of Agriculture eventually found that Duda Farms had committed zero violations — and instead stuck a hired pilot with an $1,800 fine. And that wasn't the end of it: there were “at least two other instances of farms donating to Putnam's 2014 re-election campaign for agriculture commissioner while his department investigated illegal pesticide use.”

The investigation also reveals that Putnam has lied about his resume — claiming in advertisements to be a farmer and rancher in an effort to hide his record as a career politician. In fact, the Times reports, while “Putnam's siblings and other family members on business registration documents filed with the state, never including him. At times, Putnam has distanced himself from the company he now touts as his small business experience.”

Tampa Bay Times: How Adam Putnam turned his agriculture roots into a political machine


• On the morning of Oct. 16, 2014, Maria Garcia was working in a celery field when she noticed a small yellow plane spraying pesticides in the next field over. A breeze blew toward her and 50 coworkers. She took in a strong odor. Her eyes itched and her head hurt. She vomited.

• Garcia and a dozen others were taken to the hospital with symptoms of pesticide exposure. Half remained sick for weeks, according to a Florida Department of Health investigation, according to records obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

• The plane was hired by Duda Fresh Farm Foods to spray pesticides on one of its radish fields. Just before the pilot took off, someone working for Duda moved the farm workers within dangerous proximity to the plane's path.

• The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigated. It concluded there were no violations by the farm. Instead, the agency fined the pilot $1,800.

• The Duda family and their business have become one of the largest donors to Putnam's campaign for governor, contributing $187,000 since the pesticide accident.

• The first $3,000 came on Oct. 17, 2014 — the day after the accident.

• Farm worker advocates said the Duda accident was one of the worst pesticide exposure cases in more than a decade. In its own investigation, the Florida Department of Health said it was possible more workers were harmed but they were afraid to step forward.

• Putnam's office declined to explain why the pilot was fined but not the company. His campaign wouldn't make Putnam available for an interview. Asked if the donations could undermine public confidence in the investigation, campaign spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said, "Absolutely not."

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.