Advanced protections against pesticides included under Villa law

SPRINGFIELD – Following an incident in Illinois where over 20 migrant farm workers were exposed to the harmful effects of pesticides and became ill for multiple days, State Senator Karina Villa championed a new law that will establish a penalty fee for anyone who is responsible for exposing another individual to pesticides.

“This law will help ensure safe conditions are upheld for farm workers so they will not have to worry about pesticide exposure,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “Safe working conditions should be the bare minimum for those working in Illinois.”

The new law establishes penalties if the Illinois Department of Agriculture determines a pesticide was applied in a way inconsistent with the label and results in the exposure of the pesticide to one or more individuals. For fewer than three individuals exposed, the fee would be $500 per person exposed; three to four individuals would be $750 per person exposed; and for five or more individuals, the fee would be $1,250 per person exposed.

“In 2019, there was an incident in Illinois where over 20 migrant farm workers were sprayed with pesticide three times in one week. This was a reprehensible abuse; at the very least all workers, whether or not they are migrant, deserve safe working conditions,” Villa said. “With this bill becoming law, we are demonstrating our commitment to protecting our essential employees.”

Senate Bill 203 was signed on Friday and goes into effect immediately.