Oregon Farm Bureau

10/22/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/22/2019 17:21

Judge overturns aerial spray ban

Oct. 22, 2019: Farmers, ranchers, foresters, and fishers cheered a ruling by Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Bachart that overturned the entirety of Measure 21-177, an ill-conceived county ordinance passed by voters in 2017 that outlawed aerial spraying - as well as encouraged vigilantism on private property and opened the door to frivolous lawsuits against businesses on behalf of rocks and soil.

On Sept. 23, Judge Bachart ruled that preemptive state law regulates pesticide use under Oregon's Pesticide Control Act (ORS Chapter 634) - not local governments.

This is exactly what members of Lincoln County Farm Bureau had argued in community meetings, in the local news, and with elected officials for many months before the measure was narrowly passed by voters (by a mere 61 votes).

PHOTO: At the 2017 OFB Convention, former OFB President Barry Bushue (far left) presented a Service to Agriculture Award to Lincoln County Farm Bureau for its courageous fight against the divisive county measure to ban aerial spraying. From left are former OFB President Barry Bushue and Lincoln County Farm Bureau members Alan Fujishin, daughter Cora, Lorissa Fujishin, Cathy Steere, Joe Steere, and OFB EVP Dave Dillon.

Blueberry grower and member of Lincoln County Farm Bureau, Alan Fujishin (in above photo, third from left) served as the director of the Coalition to Defeat Measure 21-177.

Q: What does this ruling mean for the rest of the state?

A: 'The judge's decision reinforces that the appropriate authorities to regulate pesticide use are state and federal agencies. Safe and responsible pesticide use is too important an issue to leave to local governments, which have neither the resources nor expertise to effectively conduct risk assessments, create environmentally sound regulations, or enforce the rules they come up with,' said Fujishin.

'Local electorates do not constitute a panel of experts or a scientific consensus regarding something as sophisticated as pesticide use,' he said. 'They are too easily swayed by false or misleading claims, fear-mongering, and uninformed political agendas. Being able to type in a Google search does not make you an expert on agricultural or forestry practices, plant physiology, or environmental toxicology.'

Q: As more county ballot measures attempt to govern agriculture at the local level, what lessons can Farm Bureau members take away from what occurred in Lincoln County?

A: 'I want our local communities to learn more about what we do, how we do it, and why,' said Fujishin. 'They need to be informed enough about the tools we use in agriculture, fishing, and forestry to not be susceptible to scare tactics by special interests. Good policies, on any issue, come from a place of understanding, not fear.

'There are lots of things that informed local citizens can do to help ensure environmentally sound pesticide practices. We can make our priorities known to our state and federal elected officials. We can advocate for adequate public funding for the agencies responsible for regulating pesticide use. We can also support funding for university research and instruction,' said Fujishin.