The organic movement in the United States has been on the upswing for years, but there is still tons of work to be done in the area of food production.
A recent report from Food Safety News found that grocery stores rely on imported organic food an estimated 80 percent of the time, meaning that the United States is in desperate need of new organic farmers to grow its food.
In the meantime, our current crop of organic farmers is under attack from many different angles. Thankfully, however, one of the largest organic farms in the country has been saved in large part due to an outpouring of support from social media supporters.
Azure Standard Given Reprieve From Toxic Chemical Spraying
Azure Standard in Moro, Central Oregon is a 2,000-acre organic farm growing wheat, field peas, barley, and Einkorn while also producing organic beef.
Recently, the farm posted a call-to-action to its supporters to help prevent the forced spraying of three different toxic herbicides on its property: Milestone, Escort, and Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup, with the active ingredient glyphosate, a “probable human carcinogen” according to the World Health Organization.
The move was threatened by a Sherman County court, which changed the area’s standards for noxious weed control from “controlling” to “eradicating.” Neighbors said that the farm’s weeds were traveling to their property, but Azure’s owners knew that using toxic chemicals was not the correct solution.
“This (would) destroy all the efforts Azure Farms has made for years to produce the very cleanest and healthiest food humanly possible,” the farm wrote on its website, fearing that they would need three years to recover and save the organic standard the farm had set.
Organic Farm Granted Reprieve After Social Media Post
After a meeting this past Wednesday in Sherman County Court, Commissioner Joe Dabulskis decided to give Azure another chance, noting the farm’s plan to get rid of the weeds organically.
The farm had drummed up major support on social media and through phone calls and emails to the county, helping to prevent the spraying. Now, Azure must focus on its responsibilities and remove the weeds organically.
“Nobody here cares if there’s weeds on Azure farm,” said Dabulskis. “Just don’t let them blow across to the road onto the neighbors,” he said.
Their plan was expected to be reviewed by Oregon State University experts and if approved will be put into action soon.
Ironically enough, the case reminds many of the tension between organic and GMO farmers across the country — cases in which genetically modified (i.e. engineered) pollen from neighboring crops has contaminated organic crops and caused farmers to lose certification. These organic farmers have not been protected adequately protected in the courts, critics say, causing organic certified farmers to lose countless millions of dollars in export markets over the years after GM material is found in their crops.
For the time being, Azure’s organic standards are safe, as is the farm its owners have worked to protect and maintain.
The hope now is that Azure’s natural weed eradication program will work as planned so both parties can get back to focusing on what they do best — growing food.