We appreciated this well-rounded article by OPB, addressing the different sides to this story, and the ongoing arguments about crop contamination from one farm to another. We encourage you to read it through.
May 17, 2017 | Weeds. Nobody wants them. But, lately, the subject has taken over everything in rural Sherman County — the talk around town, email servers, even the local high school gymnasium.
At issue is whether a large organic farm, Azure Standard, is letting its weeds spread onto neighboring property — and whether the government should do something about it. Neighboring farmers say the weeds have crept onto their fields, costing them time and money to control the problem.
The weeds include rush skeleton, Canada thistle, morning glory and whitetop.
“These are bad weeds. They just take over,” said Bryan Cranston, a neighboring farmer who grows seed wheat.
The company submitted a weed control plan on Tuesday afternoon, which included options ranging from heavy fertilization followed by deep cultivation in the fall, mowing before seeds form, to acquiring specialized farm equipment that selectively cuts plants and grasses.
“It’s a complicated problem. There’s no easy solution for organic farms,” said David Knaus, an organic agriculture consultant hired by Azure Standard. “It can be done. The thing they need to do is stay after it.”
And if they don’t? County residents say the weeds can’t go on like this.
“I hope they put these organic methods into use and never have to spray a single drop, but I urge the (Sherman County) court to enforce the ordinance to the fullest extent if it’s not done in a timely manner,” said wheat farmer Logan Padget.
Others at the meeting said Sherman County could use this media attention for good.
“(Organic) is going to be the way of the future,” said Dufur resident Benjamin Brewer. “We should support the weed board to study ways to control organic agriculture. We have a lot to learn. We can decide then as a community and be on the map for future generations, saying, ‘That county stood up and supported organic agriculture.’”