Woody Guthrie got it wrong. This land is government land, and they don’t care what the deed says.
Azure Standard is a USDA Certified Organic Farm in Oregon. They are a large farm, one of the most prolific in the area of organic and non-GMO foods, and they are under literal threat of ruination based on government whim. That’s not even click-bait dramatization.
Azure Standard serves customers who desire such products all over the US, and have earned their clients’ trust over 18 years of organic certification and growth. Don’t give a hoot about organic stuff? Stick around, ’cause that’s not even the point.
Approximately 2,000 acres of Azure’s farms exist in Sherman County, Oregon. Like most places in the US, Sherman County has regulations concerning the control of “invasive species” or “noxious weeds” – plants that shouldn’t be in that area, and endanger native species. Recently, the “powers that be” in Sherman County decided to change the way in which they would interpret the law. They decided that these weeds not only had to be controlled, but needed to be eradicated. The weeds in question include Morning Glory and Canada Thistle, just for reference. Note, they didn’t change the law. There was no public vote, this is not the result of a judicial decision. They simply decided to interpret the law differently.
On June 11th, 2017, David Stelzer, CEO of Azure Standard, opened an e-mail from Sherman County. The County is seeking a court order to force spraying of all 2,000 acres of this farm with herbicides such as RoundUp, Escort, and Milestone. Not only do they want to force the landowner to spray, they would also put a lien on the property until Azure Standard had paid the cost for chemicals and labor. All to kill the weeds on Azure’s property.
Consequences of Spraying
When a farm is organic, they must treat their land according to methods outlined by the USDA, which prohibits the use of these weed killers. These weeds are difficult to eradicate by organic methods, and in some cases help to support soil renewal and balance if kept under control. They can be controlled. Azure Standard has been and wishes to continue using organic methods to do so. So, what happens if the farm is, in fact, sprayed with these chemicals?
It will be ruined. In a nation where nutrition has become a central issue, a farm will go away. Azure cannot operate on this land for at least three years after chemical treatment, because USDA guidelines won’t permit it. And it wouldn’t be the best business decision to operate both non-organic and organic farms – customer trust seems to go downhill when companies try things like that. No, this farm will lose 2,000 acres of productive land for several years, and that’s assuming the County doesn’t require further treatment in future years!
Let me say that again – for complying with the new interpretation of the law, Azure Standard will be punished with a three-year moratorium on their organic certification, if not more.
It’s enough to make me wonder if someone wants that land for another use, and is willing to use government force to get it. Total theory on my part, to be clear, but in today’s environment, can you blame me?
How This Affects You
So, you don’t care about organic stuff. You’re willing to eat whatever someone grows. I’m cool with that. But are you really OK with a handful of elected officials telling you what you may and may not do on your personal property? What if you owned a business and the five people on your county board decided it should be burned to assist in firefighter training, and that you could not rebuild for three years? If suddenly “they” told your employer that her fleet of cabs was needed for park rangers, and you no longer had a job as a cabbie because the cars had been taken? Oh, and your employer can’t buy any more cars for three years. Is that OK?
No, of course not. But what if you don’t see these chemicals as destructive? What if you don’t see it as being the same as theft or arson? Again, fine by me. I don’t care if the government wants to force me to spray my property with fairy dust, sprinkle it with rainbows, or water it. It’s force. Force that will come, depending on the actions of the court and the property owners, at the end of a weapon or through imprisonment.
Such action cannot be allowed to continue, especially in a nation historically defined by its innovation and growth via the free market. Especially in a nation founded on the idea of individual rights, including property rights. This is not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, but if we act quickly this property may be saved.
For more detailed information, and to support Azure Standard, please watch the video, aired the morning the e-mail was received. Please consider this government overreach at your next election, or consider recall where applicable. Especially if you live inside the Sherman County borders, I urge you to take immediate action and help prevent this tragedy. You have the power to change this. Not a fan of the company? The next bit of land could still be yours.
Court is on May 22, 2017, so please consider the timing. Azure is hoping to have the majority of calls and e-mails in to the court by May 17. This is truly urgent.
E-mail Sherman County Court Assistant Lauren Hernandez: email@example.com
Call Lauren Hernandez to express your concern: 541-565-3416
An emotional update from Azure’s CEO: