Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses.

Oregon State law requires arms to control noxious weeds, in the case of Azure Farms Canadian Thistle. But in this instance Sherman County states that the farm is not doing enough to control this noxious weed through organic means. Instead, it was determined that the farm use a scorched earth herbicide to do what it states is an eradication effort rather than a control measures county officials consider ineffective.

In an appeal to the public for help, Azure Farms issued a statement that reads in part:

This will destroy all the efforts as your farm has made for years to produce the very cleanest and healthiest food humanly possible. About 2,000 acres will be impacted; that is 2.8 times the size of The City of London that is about to be sprayed with noxious, toxic, polluting herbicides.

The county would then put a lien on the farm to pay for the expense of the labor and chemicals used.

As if it was not enough to relegate the farm to being contaminated with hazardous chemicals, adding insult to injury the county is forcing the organic farm to pay for its own demise.

Azure Standard, the owner of Azure Farms, is the largest distributor of organic and non-GMO foods in the United States. The company received an email from Sherman County officials stating that the county had changed its interpretation of the statutory code regarding weed control on organic farms. They decided that control of noxious weeds simply is not enough and that instead thay want to eradicate noxious weeds. It is very difficult to fully eradicate weeds in an organic farming.

The farm may soon receive a court order to apply herbicides to the farm during a hearing on May 22 if the court follows the county’s demand.

One single application of a chemical herbicide is enough for an organic farm to lose its USDA Organic Certification. According the USDA:

Any land used to produce raw organic commodities must not have had prohibited substances applied to it for the past three years. Until the full 36-month transition period is met, you may not:

  • Sell, label, or represent the product as “organic”
  • Use the USDA organic or certifying agent’s seal

One can only imagine the economic impact for a three year period in which an organic farm cannot be certified. But aside from the certification issue, the provenance of the farm could be damaged and there may be residuals remaining in the soil.

It is not only an economic cost to the farm, but a loss of supply for many who are concerned about health risks with chemicals such as Roundup, a herbicide listed as a “Probable Human Carcinogen” by the Europeans.

Given the size of the chemical herbicide industry that faces loss of sales due to public demand for greater access to organic foods, a very convenient way to force herbicide might be through friendly faces in noxious weed control districts.

Update: Agricultural Scientist Responds To Oregon County’s Mandate To Apply Herbicides To Organic Farm

Here follows a video news release from the farm along with contact information for Sherman County:

UPDATE: The Organic Farm and Sherman County have reached a tentative settlement.

By Darren Smith

Sources:

Oregon Revised Statutes
Azure Standard
Sherman County Oregon Weed District

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

117 thoughts on “Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

  1. People need to wake up and stop allowing the government to take over our lives. Anyone can see that all these chemicals are making people very sick. Its in the food and the air we breath. Its all about making money, control and dumbing down America.

    • As Upton Sinclair once quipped, ” “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

  2. STAND STRONG….Your sheriff can protect you if you show you have standing especially if you have current records that your have made good faith to control weeds organically with organic, best method practices. Chemical trespassing will destroy your livelihood and those of your workers.. Your must assure that you receive a jury trial be made available to you BEFORE the trespassing occurs..After spraying is too late.
    A jury can nullify the spraying ordinance if that law is bad and denies you constitutional rights of life, liberty and /or property..I hope you have posted all of your property lines way ahead of this threat. Let press know if your representatives are supporting you…i.e. public, local news releases ..If your senator and other local property owners stand publicly with you, the county would have difficulty crossing into your property. The county could be sued for millions by Azure and employees. Destroying ones livelihood by forcing themselves onto your property without prior sufficient cause determined by a jury of your peers is a travesty against your pursuit of happiness as well as your professional liberties.
    Contact your regional Farm Bureau and Grange as well as Master Gardeners and your Organic Certification director. You can also show cause for loss of work ….. stress caused re crucial Springtime/transplanting time lost.
    If this can happen to you, it can happen to all of us. God bless you.
    Rachael Johnson,
    Benewah County, Idaho

    • Somehow I don’t think we’re going to see the same turnout at Azure Farms as we saw at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.

      • Dolphin, it seems you were correct. Azure didnt get a lot of local support. Farmers, organic or non organic have to be responsible neighbors if they want their sheriff and other farmers to back their efforts.
        Fortunately for Azure (and the rest of organic farmers), social media helped their cause. After the facts came in , Azure was pretty much out their on their own…having not ”religiously” practiced to do no harm to their neighbors. But like Isabel commented, thistle isnt nearly as caustic for the human condition as Roundup…
        This is a heads up to organic farmers everywhere…
        Use ”best practices” of organic weed abatement…then document what and when you did it. And Post ”no trespassing” on your farm fences, with the intent of protecting your livelihood and property rights.
        Rachael,
        Benewah County, Idaho

  3. I agree with the county. By their own logic, and in the spirit of complete eradication of these noxious weeds, they must mandate that the entire county be sprayed withy the designated mix of Milestone, Escort, and Roundup. This includes all farms of any kind, all residential, commercial, and government properties, including especially those owned by the county and its employees, as well as all parks, forests, riparian zones, and wilderness areas, Nothing short of total coverage will suffice.

    Furthermore, as experience has shown, repeated applications are generally necessary. Therefore, all lands in the county of Sherman must be repeatedly sprayed for a period of three years, or until a thorough appraisal of all land parcels in Sherman County has determined that no noxious weeds are present.

    And finally, and in keeping with the mandate concerning Azure Farm, liens will be placed on all properties in Sherman County until such time as property owners have paid in full for the chemicals and labor required to eradicate all noxious weeds on each parcel.

    In the event that this program results in herbicide-resistant strains of the targeted noxious weeds, as invariably happens, the county will require property owners to underwrite the development of new herbicides to address these new strains.

    Nothing short of complete eradication will be tolerated.

  4. Would Whole Foods get behind helping in this matter? Weeds are not Noxious the sprays are. Losing our bees and butterfly’s are a world problem caused by intolerance of nature and ignorance paid for by large corporations. What about the constitutional rights of private property and citizens who want organic food?

  5. I just returned tonight from the town hall meeting in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon hosted to discuss the row between Azure Farms, the county weed control board, and other interested parties.

    Both sides have expressed their surprise at having been overwhelmed by responses via telephone and email. Azure stated they received over 40,000 emails and constant phone calls. The county received over 57,000 and stopped answering the phone because they were so overwhelmed with calls over the past few days.

    I am working on an article for the weekend to describe the findings of the meeting and the course selected to move forward for both sides.

  6. Monsanto and their ilk are con artists. You are the mark. They have media centers full of employees scour the Internet for discussions such as this. They are skilled at injecting comments to evoke doubt, anger, and confusion. They use false logic and emotional triggers to rile the brainwashed marks while at the same time engaging those opposed to their lies into a heated attack… through flawed logic, trigger words, and emotional disruption. Through this sides are polarized and thereby manipulated. Understanding the con will go a long way to getting the world out of this mess.

    • “Lawyer and PhD”…
      -I read much of the social media campaign on behalf of Azure Farms.
      And much of the media coverage parroted what was presented in that online media campaign.
      If there was an overwhelming bias and groupthink in the online campaign and medi coverage, it was not on the part of Monsanto.
      You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Interesting attack tnash. It is inevitable the corporatist globalist con will eventually fail. The question for you to answer for yourself is how much pollution, lies, and murder do you want to support a along the way?

        • “lawyer and PhD.”
          Maybe you can check with Sherman County officials to see how many of the 57,000 emails they received were from the “corporatist globalist con” generated by Monsanto.
          You expressed your view that “Monsanto and their ilk” have “media centers full of employees” that scour the internet to for “discussions such as this”.
          OK….I told you what I observed in the social media campaign on behalf of Azure Farms, and it is far from what you described.
          As a “lawyer and PhD.”, I’m sure you’d be interested in making your case by showing evidence of Monsanto’s involvement in the internet exchanges about the Azure Farms issue.
          Now if you can’t back up your assertion about the Monsanto “corporatist globalist” involvement in this internet campaign, your fallback position is that only one whon is for “pollution, lies, and murder” would question your baseless accusations.

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