After 40 years of organic farming, Azure Standard farms in Oregon is being told they will be forced to use RoundUp or similar chemical methods of weed control — thereby ending their ability to grow organic food. Hear the case for organic farming from an experienced farmer.
Azure Standard, a beautiful 2,000-acre organic farm in Oregon, which has been providing competitively priced beef, field peas, Einkorn and organic wheat to consumers around the country for nearly two decades, is under attack.
Oregon state law mandates that farmers control certain noxious weeds, including Canadian Thistle. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains that Canadian Thistle, or Cirsium arvense, was likely introduced into the United States in the 1600s by shipments of farming seed brought in from Europe. The plant is considered a threat, as it crowds out native species and reduces crop yields.
Sherman County alleges that Azure Standard is not controlling this weed to their satisfaction, and has decided to take steps to do so personally by spraying the farm with dangerous herbicides, including Roundup, Milestone and Escort.
Now, presumably Azure Standard is not finding that Canadian Thistle is reducing its crop yields, or crowding out what they’re trying to plant. And, while it’s true that by not spraying herbicides on their farm the weed could possibly spread to nearby farms, if those farmers are not farming organically they are likely spraying poisonous herbicides anyway, which would theoretically halt the spread. It is, therefore, illogical to insist that Azure should lose their organic certification by forcing the spraying of herbicides on their farm.
If you buy organic products, chances are you have heard of Azure Standard, which is sort of like a mobile co-op that delivers well-priced organic food and products in bulk to drop-off points around the country.
Now that idyllic 2000-acre organic farm, which has produced reasonably priced organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for thousands of people across the country, is about to be sprayed against their will with Roundup and other harmful pesticides, due to a ruling from their local municipality about invasive plants.
Oregon state law requires farms to control noxious weeds. In this case, the weed in question is the Canadian Thistle. Sherman County appears to be concerned that Azure has not taken enough steps to eradicate the weed and decided they’ll do it themselves, to the detriment of Azure’s long-standing, 18-year organic certification and their livelihood as organic farmers.
Just in case you were under the misconception that we actually own our land and can decide what happens to it in this country, it appears that we’re tenant farmers with no options if the local government decides to wipe us out:
“Sherman County may be issuing a Court Order on May 22, 2017, to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the whole farm with poisonous herbicides, contaminating them with Milestone, Escort and Roundup herbicides.
This will destroy all the efforts Azure Farms has made for years to produce the very cleanest and healthiest food humanly possible. About 2,000 organic acres would be impacted; that is about 1.5 times the size of the city center of Philadelphia 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.” (source)
So not only will they poison the crops and kill off Azure’s livelihood, they’ll charge them for it. That’s a brazen insult on top of the injury.
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