Crop Harvest

Josh Withers

Oregon Department of Ag. Considers ‘Pesticide Drift’ Impact

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is being urged by the Oregon Farm Bureau to consider regulations regarding pesticide drift for farmers with neighboring cannabis cultivators, The News Tribune reports.

“Pesticide drift” refers to air or insect-borne pesticide cross contamination. Different crops have different federally approved pesticides — what might work for an apple that is expected to be washed and eaten, however, might not be acceptable on a cannabis bud that is going to be cured and smoked.

Cannabis in Oregon, like most other legalized states, has laboratory-testing requirements for pesticides. Currently, if an investigation into a failed test reveals that the crop failed due to pesticide drift from a neighboring farm, insurance claims could be filed against the offending farmer’s liability insurance.

The current agricultural insurance system, however, is designed to support losing some of a typical crop such as corn and not an expensive crop like cannabis (some concentrated cannabis products are worth more than their weight in gold, for example).

Too many drift claims could lead to insurance companies simply ceasing to pay the claims, or canceling the farmer’s insurance entirely.

Some farmers are contesting the Farm Bureau and ODA’s move to discuss possible regulations, insisting that it would be better for farmers to work the issues out themselves. The ODA also does not currently have the authority to create such regulations and would need to seek additional authority.

“Do we want the state telling us what we can grow and what we can’t?” — Tracey Liskey, Klamath Falls farmer, via The News Tribune

The process is only just beginning in Oregon. County-level representatives of the Farm Bureau have voted to discuss the issue with the ODA but it’s unclear what, if any, steps will be taken.

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