Oregon Officials Threaten To Seize 2,000 Acre Organic Farm, Spray It With Roundup

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

Sherman County Oregon believes the 2,000 acre Azure Farms is not doing enough to control Canada Thistle, a noxious weed. In this case, not doing enough means not spraying weeds with herbicides.

To remedy the alleged problem, the county proposes seizing the farm and spraying everything with Roundup and other herbicides. Azure Farms is certified organic. Of course, organic farms cannot by definition use herbicides, so the farm would be forced out of business by the county government.

Adding insult to injury, the county would place a lien on the property forcing it to pay for the herbicides.

Details of the proposed takeover can be found at Keep Azure Farm Organic

An Organic Farm Under Threat

Azure Farms is a working, Certified Organic farm located in Moro, Central Oregon, in Sherman County. It has been Certified Organic for about 18 years. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.


Sherman County is changing the interpretation of its statutory code from controlling noxious weeds to eradicating noxious weeds. These weeds include Morning Glory, Canada Thistle, and Whitetop, all of which have been on the farm for many years, but that only toxic chemicals will eradicate.


Organic farming methods – at least as far as we know today – can only control noxious weeds—it is very difficult to eradicate them.


What’s Happening?

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 2.8 times the size of the City of London, England, and 1.5 times the size of the city center of Philadelphia that could 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.


Take Action Now

If you are concerned about where your food comes from, enjoy Organic and non-GMO food grown in the United States, and support organic farmers, contact Sherman County Court before May 22, 2017 (and preferably before May 17 when the next court discussion will be held).


Contact info:

  1. Via email at lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us or…
  2. Call Lauren at 541-565-3416.


Raise your voice and speak up for you and your families and communities.


This proposed action is completely unreasonable and would destroy an organic farm and pollute a massive area. If enough voices that benefit from organic produce speak up, the county will understand that there are people that care about their food NOT containing toxic chemicals. And if the supporters of healthy food can have a louder voice than the supporters of toxic chemicals, every politician will listen. PLEASE take action today and share this message. Overwhelm the Sherman County representatives with your voice.



Nathan Stelzer
Azure Farm Manager

Agricultural Scientist Responds

Alos consider Will There be Mandatory Herbicide Spraying on Organic Farms in Sherman County, Oregon? by Charles Benbrook, PhD.

He sent a letter to Lauren Hernandez (email above).

Dear Ms. Hernandez et al:


I live in Wallowa County. I learned today of the recent, dramatic change in the Sherman County noxious weed control program and the plan to forcibly spray a 2,000-acre organic farm in the county.


Over a long career, I have studied herbicide use and efficacy, public and private weed control efforts, the linkages between herbicide use and the emergence and spread of resistant weeds, and the public health and environmental impacts of herbicide use and other weed management strategies.


I served for six years, along with fellow Oregonian Barry Bushue, past-president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, on the USDA’s AC 21 Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Issues arising from herbicide use were a frequent topic of discussion during our Committee’s deliberations.


I have published multiple scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals on glyphosate, its human health risks, and the impact of genetically engineered crops on overall herbicide use and the spread of resistant weeds. In a separate email, I will forward you copies of my published research relevant to the use of herbicides, and glyphosate in particular.


The notion that Sherman County can eradicate noxious weeds by blanket herbicide spraying is deeply misguided. I cannot imagine a single, reputable university weed scientist in the State supporting the idea that an herbicide-based noxious weed eradication program would work (i.e., eradicate the target weeds) in Oregon, or any other state.


There is near-universal agreement in the weed science community nationwide, and surely as well in the PNW, that over-reliance on glyphosate (Roundup) over the last two decades has created multiple, new noxious weeds posing serious economic, environmental, and public health threats.


In fact, over 120 million acres of cultivated cropland in the U.S. is now infested with one or more glyphosate-resistant weed (for details, see http://cehn-healthykids.org/herbicide-use/resistant-weeds/).


The majority of glyphosate-resistant weeds are in the Southeast and Midwest, where routine, year-after-year planting of Roundup Ready crops has led to heavy and continuous selection pressure on weed populations, pressure that over three-to-six years typically leads to the evolution of genetically resistant weed phenotypes, that can then take off, spreading across tens of millions of acres in just a few years.


Ask any farmer in Georgia, or Iowa, or Arkansas whether they would call “noxious” the glyphosate-resistant kochia, Palmer amaranth, Johnson grass, marestail, or any of a dozen other glyphosate-resistant weeds in their fields.


It is virtually certain that an herbicide-based attempt to eradicate noxious weeds in Sherman County would fail. It would also be extremely costly, and would pose hard-to-predict collateral damage on non-target plants from drift, and on human health and the environment. But even worse, it would also, almost certainly, accelerate the emergence and spread of a host of weeds resistant to the herbicides used in the program. …


if Sherman County is serious about weed eradication, it will have to mandate widespread spraying countywide, and not just on organic farms, and not just for one year. The public reaction will be swift, strong, and build in ferocity. It will likely lead to civil actions of the sort that can trigger substantial, unforeseen costs and consequences. I am surely not the only citizen of the State that recalls the tragic events last year in Malheur County.


Plus, I guarantee you that the County, the herbicide applicators, and the manufacturers of the herbicides applied, under force of law on organic or other farms, will face a torrent of litigation seeking compensatory damages for loss of reputation, health risks, and the loss of premium markets and prices.


I have followed litigation of this sort for decades, and have served as an expert witness in several herbicide-related cases. While it is obviously premature to start contemplating the precise legal theories and statutes that will form the crux of future litigation, the County should develop a realistic estimate of the legal costs likely to arise in the wake of this strategy, if acted upon, so that the County Commissioners can alert the public upfront regarding how they will raise the funds needed to deal with the costs of near-inevitable litigation.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.



Charles Benbrook, PhD

Troy, Oregon

Canada Thistles in Sherman County

Ther above image from Eddmaps.

Even if someone thought this action would eradicate the weeds, it would have to be applied to the entire county if not the entire state. Then what? The nation?

Farmer vs Farmer

I always want to know the other side of the story.

In this case, the story is farmer vs farmer. Neighboring wheat growers say weeds spreading from Azure Farms threaten their crops.

Capital Press reports County May Press for Quarantine of an Organic Farm.

Local wheat farmers say weeds spreading from Azure Farms, on the outskirts of Moro in north central Oregon, cost them money in the form of additional herbicide control. Most critically, growers of certified wheat seed say their crops will be worthless if contaminated by Rush Skeleton Weed, Canada Thistle, Morning Glory and White Top spreading from the farm.


Spraying the weeds with Milestone or other herbicides, however, would cause the farm to lose organic certification for three years. Azure Standard, which operates Azure Farms, is a major distributor of organic products.


Sherman County gave the farm until May 22 to respond with a weed management plan. If not, the county will ask the Oregon Department of Agriculture to quarantine the farm.


The issue has blown up on social media.


The manager of Azure Farms, Nathan Stelzer, urged supporters to “Overwhelm the Sherman County representatives with your voice.” A video posted on the farm website called for people to express their outrage reportedly has resulted in hundreds of phone calls and thousands of emails to county officials.


The issue may come to a head Wednesday when the county’s Board of Commissioners takes up the issue. The county is expecting such a crowd that it moved the session from the courthouse to the Sherman County School gym, 65912 High School Loop, Moro, at 4 p.m.


“The school gym is the only site in Sherman County big enough to hold the expected crowd and we received permission to use the gym only if we delayed our meeting until after the students are dismissed,” Commissioner Tom McCoy said in an email.


Wheat farmer Bryan Cranston, who grows certified seed next to Azure Farms, said its weed problems have gotten progressively worse over the years. Cranston said he spoke to Selzer and told him, “I don’t drift chemicals on you, I’d appreciate it if weeds don’t drift on me.”


Cranston said he told Selzer, “I grow seed wheat to garner more out of the market, you grow organic to garner more out of the market — we have a lot in common here.”


But he added, “You’re messing me up.”


The county warned that it would spray if the farm didn’t, and the cost for multiple surveys throughout the growing season would be billed to the farm as a lien on its property taxes.


Asher said the county could help identify weed, recommend control methods and herbicide products, and had a spray crew for hire if necessary.


David Stelzer said Azure is attempting to improve its ground through crop rotation and “companion planting” of various crops.


“Bio-diversity, a few weeds in the field, does not make a bad farmer,” he said.


Responding to comments he said have been made about the farm, he said it is not affiliated with a religion although they are a “family a faith.” He said Azure properly pays its taxes and provides a $6 million payroll. He said the farm’s wheat yields nearly meet the county average and is of high quality. Eventually, organic farming methods will be “dominant,” he said.

Both Sides

That’s both sides of the farming story.

But there is a medical issue as well. Some patients claim Roundup gave us cancer as EPA official helped the company.


  1. Are the increased used of herbicides on neighboring farms caused by Roundup resistant plants or seeds from the organic farm?
  2. Is Azure Farms responsible for blown seeds?
  3. Realistically, how far do these seeds blow? Miles? Thousands of acres?
  4. Is the remedy a lawsuit against Azure Farms by other farmers or action by the County?
  5. Is it possible to create a buffer zone of some sort?
  6. Is Roundup a carcinogen?

Whether or not you buy and eat organic foods, the proposed action (property seizure)  is extremely controversial, and it likely will not do much about the weeds either.

Widespread overuse of herbicides (I admit I use them on my lawn and garden), has created Roundup resistant weeds that are near impossible to get rid of.

Thistle is one weed I have a very difficult time with myself.  Some plants turn brown in a day or two, but thistles stay green for quite a long time even if they wilt and look sick.

I sprayed thistles four times over the course of a week this year hoping to get rid of them.


If you care to voice an opinion, you can do it here: lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us

I recommend being polite.

My opinion: Spraying will not work. More importantly, the proposed county action of property seizure steps well over the bounds of reasonableness.

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Cognitive Dissonance's picture

New and improved 'organic' by Monsanto.

froze25's picture

They will ask us for help, we will feed them more poison

hedgeless_horseman's picture


If my trees are casting shadows on my neighbor's property, and preventing him from growing plants, it does not give the government the right to cut down my trees.  

Trees cast shadows.  Plants cast seeds.  Animals and plants respire.  It is natural, like our right to life, liberty, and property.



Dane Bramage's picture

GMO plants cast GMO pollen... (pandora's box?) & then they can sue you for using their patented genetics that contaminated your crop!   I think Monsanto has actually won a few cases, if my memory serves.

I like your "it is natural" argument though.  GMO falls squarely outside of the natural definition.  Of course it's not as cut & dried as even that.  The neighboring conventional farms have the burden of proof that the organic farm is causing them substantive damage... and the damage would have to be beyond the realm of any public byway, ditch, etc., that, in all likelihood, is producing a lot more weeds than a massively successful organic farm.  Conversely, if the conventional farm's pesticides waft over and kill my honeybee colonies, contaminate my crops, etc., turnabout is fair play.

duo's picture

That Milestone shit is nasty. If cows eat grass that is treated with it, their urine will make the soil poisonous for non-grassy plants for a couple of years. There have been numerous cases of commercial compost that was contaminated with the stuff. Use it in your garden, and everything dies.

Jim Sampson's picture

Just one step to outlaw organic farming.

Manthong's picture

It sounds like Roundup enemas are in order for some county officials.


And who says Liberal Democrats aren't really Nazis?


El Vaquero's picture

Last year, a couple of weeks before my next door neighbor died from cancer, the docs told him that there was a really good chance that Roundup caused the cancer. 


Ironically, one of his elms shits my yard up with seeds every spring, and I never even considered using the government to force him to cut it down.  His widow hates the tree though, so it may come down anyway. 


Plants that I hate:

Bermuda grass


Elm trees

giovanni_f's picture

Sherman county should sue Putin. Russia produces more and GMO-free wheat. The "certified" farmer with his "big Ag"-centric produce will run into economic problems anyway and maybe has to shift to the production of government-subsidized Soylent green before long.

Our obese snowflakes, boomers, and Gen-x-lers demand cheap shit. BIg AG gives it to them.

HRH Feant2's picture

If you missed today's Frontline episode, now is a good time to watch it.

All about us bad patriots.

If you want to understand eastern Oregon and that so-called fake fucking wildlife refuge, this is a good place to start: https://www.blm.gov/or/districts/vale/plans/files/20100316_MalheurQueen_...

BLM (Bureau of Land Managment) approved placer mining in that area. There was gold they were after. They didn't give a damn about ducks or birds. Or people.

brianshell's picture

Sherman county seems to have been infiltrated by UN agenda 21 operatives.

Farmers should look to men like Dave Brandt to successfully grow no till cover crop blends and control the weeds that way.

BeansMcGreens's picture

The way to go with this is that killing the weeds will effect and kill the bees.

No bees and other pollinaters, no food.

Organic farmer who sells at farmers market, fifteen years.

meta-trader's picture

she was a waitress in a cocktail bar now she owns a jet... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

Joe Davola's picture

Wonder what they call Canada Thistle in Canada?

TuPhat's picture

There is a really good chance that the Docs don't know what caused the cancer at all.  You should have put rose hedge on your list.

Helix6's picture

I'm pretty sure that Sherman County OR is a deep red county.

wildbad's picture

thanks go to Joh Rappaport of nomorefakenews.com for bringing this story out.

write the corrupt fucks at that county

Amicus Curiae's picture

so what do you reckon the absorbed amounts IN the cattle do to YOU when theyre killed and put on the table later?


Diatom's picture

Murikans are stupid beyond belief...

Keep on pumping poison everywhere( Roundup,fracking,vaccines, opiates, antidepressants...)

1 kid in 67 is autistic. 1 in 4 has a cronic disease.

Fuck murika! It's disgusting!

TuPhat's picture

In the county where my dad lives they have passed a law that you are not allowed to have thistle growing on your property.  He got fined once for having some in his pasture.  After that he mows more often and the thistles can't grow.  Sounds to me like the organic growers are being jerks and not obeying the law.  For my dad that was the last thing the county would do if you did not comply is to get rid of the thistle for you and charge you for it.  The organic farmers should take care of the thistle themselves instead of spreading it to others farms and they wouldn't have this problem.  We have a problem with rose hedge in Texas.  It was imported from somewhere years ago and spread everywhere.  It costs everyone a lot of money to control it but until a county or state wide effort is made to get rid of it nothing will be successful.  It destroys grazing land and fences and is a nuisance to everyone.  Sometimes cooperation of all is necessary for the good of all.  Should cooperation be required by using force?  Maybe sometimes it should.

effendi's picture

Not so. If I plant (or permit to grow) a noxious plant (weed) on my property then it is incumbent on me to take proper actions to eradicate the weed. For non herbicide methods that can include cultivation, slashing, grazing, chipping, steam/hot water, mulching, weed mats etc. This farmer has failed to take proper steps and is fucking with his neighbours properties and livelihoods. So now steps are being taken to clean the shit up (which in this case unfortunatly includes herbicides). That the state steps in is no different to when they step in and clean up a garbage infested house owned by a crazy cat lady. BTW plants only cast seeds if you let them and this is no different to having a neighbour who refuses to mow his lawn and his weeds seeds blow onto your property.

TuPhat's picture

Agree with you completely.  HH is wrong on this one.  Pig shit is natural but there are zoning laws that prevent my neighbors from raising pigs.  The smell would be unbearable and the flys would spread disease.  If I set off small explosions in my backyard the shock wave is a natural result but I would be in trouble if it breaks windows in the neighborhood.  Organic farmers should be considerate of others and not raise noxious weeds.  They can be dealt with in a natural way without herbicides but they should take of the problem themselves.  I would expect the county will use the quickest cheapest way which is herbicide.

Al Gophilia's picture

Take them out to a wood shed and flog the crap out of them.

chubbar's picture

Exactly. These asshats on the county board are trying to hide behind a new wording that requires "eradication" instead of "control". Why the fuck they are SO concerned about these weeds are anyones guess. That being said, I think that if one digs deep enough you'll find Monsanto and their big bags of money influencing these fucking board members! I hope someone turns up info to throw these assholes in jail!!!

HRH Feant2's picture

Oh, let me take a guess! This farm is probably doing very well and making a nice profit. That, is the problem. They are doing well but they probably are semi-hippies. If that farm is growing wheat it is probably in eastern Oregon as opposed to western Oregon which is more liberal. Eastern Oregon is old ranching country and more conservative.

I am guessing some of the good old boys in town don't like the new kids that are doing well. Plain old jealousy, my friend. Sickening.

DownWithYogaPants's picture

Doubt it.  This has Monsanto written all over it.

But if so then libtard hippies need to learn what it's like anyway since they're working overtime to suppress free speech.  What goes around comes around.


man from glad's picture

Those thistles are everywhere down here in Florida. So this is not about stopping the spread of them as it is already beyond control. Anyway it'd be like trying to eliminate fire ants - not happening!

Crash Overide's picture

I hate those thistles too but I walk around with a shovel, stop being a pussy and spraying chemicals.

Pull them out, dig them out.


If you have 10,000+ acres and your GMO wheat, soy, or ethanol corn is fucked I don't really care.

DownWithYogaPants's picture

Interestingly enough if the GMO pollen blows off the field what happens?

..... do we need to call in an airstrike against the wheat field?????

oh I see as long as it's Monsanto it's ok!

man from glad's picture

I dont spray them. I either hog 'em down with the tractor or pull them out by hand. Sometimes I get the root ball but sometimes not.

TheGardener's picture

In Kiwi they call it the Californian thistle. I have them here to. The root goes down staight for about 10 inches after which it continues

as a spiral for another 10 and straight again and so forth down to about 3 feet . Impossible to "pull" out as that nasty spiral part will only  get pulled up

and constant mowing will only contain the spread of seeds. Dig them out all the way down at three feets or apply roundup thrice.

I now grow asparagus where I had to dig 3 feets deep and refilled with organic matter to have 10 years worth of soil and fun with the asparagus.

El Oregonian's picture

Just wrote to lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us I would politely suggest that you would do the same. Now, voicing our concern over the Azure Farms the treatment with government herbicide spraying. Now, if we can all do the same letter-writing campaign with all this overhead spraying, commonly-called "Chemtrailing".


VD's picture

and if all farms are toxic shitholes oozing with Monsanto cancer chemicals and gmo aboninations, then status quo wins.



HRH Feant2's picture

I agree. And people wonder why the have gluten allergies or irritable bowel syndrome or diverticulitis or colitis? What they have are digestive problems due to eating food laced with glyphosate that has ruined the bacteria in their digestive system. Not ruined, killed the bacteria in their gut. I am a fan of a good probiotic. Lifesaver.

TheGardener's picture

Stop eating. Or at least in the way it is advertised. Zero grain products for a start, no milk robbed from calfs and miss also the sugary shelfs

and after some time you `ll be wandering the supermarket in cycles and find nothing left to be worth eating for good.

Unripe fruits and fast grown veggies are of little more nutritious value, just grow your own and be content with it no matter how little or

pitiful your harvest.  Cherish meat consumption to top up and somehow contravening a vegan diet but eat only what you killed yourself.

 If you are a serial wild animal killer like me have a slice each of the intestines on the grill and leave the rest of the intestines for the dogs.

Give away the high quality wild animal meat to friends and family, each bite they have from a wild boar the longer you will have them around as opposed to them stuffing themselfes up with pork coming from the worst of animal gruelty.

Glutony makes for compliant fat stupified citizens usually with pension benefits and surely big belly voting rights.

Dane Bramage's picture

It's much more than a successful farm.  They've got a unique business model delivering wholesale orders of organic produce from all over (including much organic locally sourced produce, of course) directly to my door.  And I don't pay any shipping!  You can set up a drop and have whomever you like pool orders so that you meet the minimum for the order (presently $550 with one drop/month).  I like buying in bulk and have my own farm with animals to feed, etc., so that order min is not a problem even just for my own family (though I don't order every month).  Their trucks are going all over the country at this point. 

Kanjiklub's picture

I totally agree, and I have done business with Azure Standard for about 10 years. This completely chaps my ass, because we depend on businesses like this when we live in a rural area, and would like good quality organic food and supplies. We have several different groups that order in our small Montana town, and it has been great for us. I sent an email, called the phone number, and signed the petition, and hopefully, many more will too.

HRH Feant2's picture

That is good news. I did an internship on an organic farm that was also a CSA. We didn't deliver but the gal I worked for had about 20 families with subscriptions and we would make up bags of groceries for them once a week and they came and picked them up at a station at the end of the road.

That was on 2 acres under high production for vegetables, greens, and lettuces. A lot of work!

We also did the Saturday market and sold specialty items to the restaurants in town.

Anyone that is successful on 2000 acres has my respect!

mc225's picture

...looks like 'sherman county' is in the 'east'...borders the 'columbia river', 'east' of 'the cascades'...



DeepFriedLizards's picture

Down river from the Hanford nuclear remediation site.  Perfect.

chiaroscuro's picture

This is sickening and I have called and emailed Sherman County since reading this article. However, the one virtue of this case is that it is wrong on so many levels it could unite conservatives, liberals and libertarians in opposition; unlike other issues which have divided us.

Helix6's picture

Re "I am guessing some of the good old boys in town don't like the new kids that are doing well. Plain old jealousy, my friend. Sickening."

This comment is preposterous.  All farms must make a profit if they're to stay in business, and any farmer knows that.  Thinking that this is about neighboring farmers being jealous of a successful operation is ridiculous.

What they are is angry because uncontrolled noxious weeds on Azure Farms are affecting their operations.  The one neighbor who offered solid figures calculated that he had to spend an extra $12 per acre to deal with weeds whose seeds drifted in from the Azure Farms operation.  To total it up, assume his operation is the same size as Azure farms - 2000 acres.  So he is now spending an extra $24,000 per year to deal with a problem caused by his neighbor.  I'd be a bit pissed off myself.

Nekoti's picture

If they step foot on Azure property, Azure reserves the right to defend itself. Every person that sets foot on their property, that is doing the county's biding, warrants Azures right to self defense. Shoot everyone of the bastards.

Helix6's picture

Do that and a weed control violation wil be the least of their problems.

turnoffthewater's picture

And remember not to mention you're and engineer and timed the yellow traffic lights

Helix6's picture

Re  These asshats on the county board are trying to hide behind a new wording that requires "eradication" instead of "control".

According to the county, there has been no change either to the ordinance itself or its interpretation.  I actually looked up that ordinance (http://www.co.sherman.or.us/documents/SCWeedOrdinance.pdf).  It's been in place since 2001.  And nothing I have seen in this story indicates to me that there has been a change in its  interpretation.  If Azure Farms is allowing noxious weeds to go to seed, it's in violation.  Given that neighboring farms are complaining about seeds drifting onto their ground, it would appear that this is the case.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

They're doing it to the children......er......I mean for the children.

<I get confused easily these days. It must be the Roundup in my tossed salad.>

nmewn's picture

Gluten farmers, duking it out, in Oregon...over Canadian thistle. Sure, why not.

Where's my popcorn.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Would you like extra GMO and butter with that popcorn sir?

No extra charge. I have stock in the sickcare industry, so I'm well compensated.