After hearing other comments similar to those expressed by Cranston, David Stelzer told the audience that he had authorized the social media campaign. He said, because he does not have a Facebook page, he did not understand the ramifications of his postings.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I do apologize for unleashing social media on this county, I didn’t want to vilify the county in any way.”
The Stelzer family, including David’s brother Nathan, farm manager, expressed surprise that so many people were upset about their production practices.
Nathan said two big projects in Dufur, where Azure is headquartered, had kept the company too busy to be diligent about stewardship of the land in Moro, where there is a large distribution center for organic products.
He told the audience that his son, Nathaniel, was newly married and he and his wife, Sarah, would be living on the Moro property to concentrate on weed control. He said Azure had also hired a consultant to work on a biological program to address the problem.
“We have every intention of living peaceably with our neighbors and do not want to do them any harm,” said Nathan.
His son also spoke to the crowd.
“Thank you for coming and voicing your opinions. We didn’t realize it was an issue because we knew you sprayed. It wasn’t until this all came out that we realized we’d hurt you and we’re sorry,” said Nathaniel.
The Stelzers agreed to work with Rod Asher, supervisor of the weed district, and other Sherman officials to develop a new weed control plan that would not require chemicals, which they strongly opposed.
“It’s a long-term thing, organic methods are slow,” said David. “Nothing works quickly in nature, it takes time.”
He said the demand for organic foods was growing and Azure did not want to lose the market they had built over the years by spraying weeds.
Azure was established in Dufur in 1989 and expanded its operation to Moro in 1999.
The Stelzers proposed a combination of tillage, mowing and organic products to get rid of weeds.