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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bshirley1968's picture

Life.....yes.......liberty.......no.  Without property there is no freedom.  Without property, one is dependent on others........ entirely.  Liberty is the freedom to make ones own decisions.  If you have no property, you have no liberty to make your own choices.  'The debtor is servant to the lender."

Liberty is independece, the exact opposite of dependence.  If you have no property (money, land, possessions,  etc.), you are dependent on others entirely i.e. no freedom.


bshirley1968's picture

The day they started spraying would be the last day of life for some people, and they would never take me alive.  

Nobody going to spray chemicals by force on my property while I am alive.  The spraying wouldn't make a dent in the thistle population,  much less control it.  

This is nothing more than a local example of crony capitalism. 

Kprime's picture

much closer to mafia style

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

Spray name-brand cola directly onto the weeds. This will kill them.

Not joking. Farmers in India who can't afford chemicals do it, and it works.

Would this affect the organic label, though? Dunno'.

Secret Weapon's picture

WI'll give it a try.  Always fun to try something new.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

Let us know.

In the end, I think the only solution is to move to hydroponics. Lots of infrastructure costs, but inevitable in the end if, as with antibiotics, weeds develop resitance to herbicides. This would also save space as farms could be built vertically, or even underground.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Hydroponics is fine, but complex animal/mycelium/plant interactions produce something better especially in a polyculture. Plant, animal and fungal interactions done right cause beautiful, delicious and nutritious outcomes.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

In a perfect world, I agree. Sadly, ours is not so perfect, and we will need to go down this road sooner or later. The amount of water on earth will never change; the amount of arable land will (mostly due to these -cides.)

serotonindumptruck's picture

Phosphoric acid kills just about all forms of organic life.

Do you know what that burning sensation is that you feel going down your throat when you drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

Yeah, that's the phosphoric acid burn that everyone loves so much.

Phosphoric acid does not support organic life.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

I know, that's why you'd only spray the weeds. (Phosphoric acid is also very bad for teeth, good for dentists - it ain't just the sugar.)

There's also a lot of residual pesticide in cola, up to 50x legal amount, so maybe not so organic, but that depends on where it is made.

HRH Feant2's picture

I had no idea but what you said makes me happy that I didn't grow up drinking soda and don't drink it now. If I do get one it is usually either ginger ale or root beer (I prefer organic with cane sugar) and only a few times a year. Otherwise I normally drink selzer water with a bit of organic juice or lemon added.

No wonder there are those life hacks that show people using cola to clean the toilet!

Nekoti's picture

Vinegar and a little soap. If you do not care if anything can grow back, put salt in the vinegar. Vinegar kills the plant, salt keeps plants from regrouping. Soap helps it all stick to the leaves of the plant.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

I've read that, too. Prolly' cheaper than Coke.

Nekoti's picture

It works. And yes, it is cheaper than round up and coke.

Trouble Code's picture

I just use water, salt (water softener pellets) and laundry detergent, no vinegar. Works well and it's very cheap and relatively safe. Deep south weed tested!

HRH Feant2's picture

I I will try the water, soap, and vinegar. I actually have worms in my backyard now, which is good. I want to keep them!

OneZero's picture

As a rule, anything that can be consumed, or applied to humans can be used on an organic farm. I use Dr Bronner's soap and olive oil on tomato plants to kill aphids and white flies and I spray hydrogen peroxide on plants that are suseptible to bacteria (washes the germs off). Tomatoe plants are fed Tums, for calcium, to prevent blossom end rot.


HRH Feant2's picture

OMG you use Tums for that? And here I have been saving eggshells and crushing them to put under each plant! That is a good idea, never heard of it!

all-priced-in's picture

I grew up in a farming community - worked on a farm in high school.


When you take your grain in to be sold they pull a sample - they test it for moisture content and foreign material - weed seeds are foreign material.


You can get docked $X per bushel if the moisture content is above a set range or if too high amount of foreign material the load can be rejected / not fit to be used for human consumption.


 If you farmed next to this place and had a part of your crop rejected you could feed it to your livestock  or sell it to someone locally that wanted to feed it - but it would cost you big $$ in reduced sale price.


I can see both sides of this - but if your farm is so full of weeds that it hurts the neighbors then you really do need to do something about it. 



bshirley1968's picture

How in the hell did anyone ever farm or make it before they invented Roundup.  I mean damn!  It's a wonder we ever made it without the pricks from Monsanto. 

Cry me a river.  If this dude can make it on 2000 acres without ANY chemicals,  them maybe his neighbor should get out his frickin notebook and take notes.

All I want to know is who is getting the government assistance.......whomever that side is can kiss my ass.

2_legs_bahhhhhd's picture

They should spray the government with roundup

Nekoti's picture

Only sunlight and wooden stakes work on them.

therover's picture

Silver bullets too,  yes  ? 

Maybe I'm thinking the Wolfman. 

Meyer Bauer's picture

I say spray the county "officials" ("official" assholes that is) and the abutting farmers and their children first to test the effects of the wonder Monsanto drugs. If, after 15 years there are no suble differences in these fuckers behaviour, then spread it on the organic fields.

Uranium Mountain's picture

Payback is a bitch.  Since those assholes love chemicals so much,  I would concider giving them a taste of the medicine they give me. If they poison my property,  I would get some 7 year ground sterilant, travel to their fucking houses and put the shit in their front yards killing their grass, trees and every living thing for years to come. I would go to the fucking courthouse and do the same. Anyone whose name was tied to the demise of my farm, they would be looking at a sterile existence on their own properties.   Oregon sucks balls. 

therover's picture

I would treat the front yard by spraying the words FUCK YOU so that when they look out their front window or step out their front door, they would always have a nice 'hello' .


Plus the fucker would still have to cut the rest of the front yard and see those lovely words at every pass. 

slicktroutman's picture

Another example of how corporations have taken over government.......just saying. Don't forget Round Up Ready crops are illegal in most of Europe.

HRH Feant2's picture

As I always say, I hate fucking communists and communism. It is a dead ideology that has one purpose: control.

I would salt my land and leave the country if they did this shit to me. I would burn it all down and dump salt on everything. Make it useless.

Dane Bramage's picture

Salt is so Roman era.  We use depleted uranium now!  :-/

wisehiney's picture

Hauled all those useless little spearchuckers all the way from africa, support them in high style, and they still won't pick the evil weed.

shimmy's picture

No way the county should be forcing something like this. That said, the people at that farm should be managing their weed control better to not hurt the farms around them. I can sort of see why they aren't since thistle is a pain in the ass to get rid of. Prickly fuckers...



SgtShaftoe's picture

Glysophate (Roundup) has been proven to cause cancer, intestinal inflammation (IBS, Khrons, etc.) just look up the research. Or hand an enabling government official a tumbler full of roundup with a roundup sticker on the tumbler. "Drink up fucker"

TemporarySecurity's picture

A good portion of the people now who think they have celiac's disease are actually sensitive to roundup.  Put them on organically grown grains and they have no problem. 

Many non-organic farms plan in advance when the wheat will be harvested and spray the entire field with roundup so it will dry out so they can harvest when they want.  This residue stays on the grains and enters our bread.

CHoward's picture

These county employees pulling this shit should remember they're only human and accidents happen all the time.  Just saying.

Wieners For Breakfast's picture

I believe the USDA was also the beneficiary of a purchase order for semi automatic weapons and ammo. I believe I saw the P. O. about a year or so ago. Wasn't it posted here on ZH?

Lost in translation's picture

Until agents of the state are killed when they attempt these types of ham-fisted "solutions," the abuses will intensify.

Lawsuits and voting have failed, a long time ago.

Gunga's picture

You don't own anything you aren't prepared to defend with more violence than those who would take it would use.

bshirley1968's picture

And thus endeth the lesson. +1000

Anarchyteez's picture

It really has come to the point of fucking some people up it seems.

Anarchyteez's picture

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



buzzsaw99's picture

i would rather eat organic thistles than roundup.

no ice's picture

And so would the butterflies!

Cluster_Frak's picture

those fucking canadians. they are ruining the socialist idyll. nuke the bastards.

rejected's picture

As I have said many times....

Americans don't own shit!  Whether through property seizure, asset forfeiture or eminent domain, government owns it all.

Mike Rotsch's picture

I sent my email.  It took 3 minutes, and it was absolutely the very least I could do.

Pumpkin's picture

My 'governments' are the only ones in the whole world that steal from me.  But life is short.  May the keep what they steal forever.

passerby's picture

They should at least be given a fair choice between roundup, more chemtrails or fluoride.