Always it irks me to see the listing of violators of pesticide law, an offense that not only hurts ag's image, but creates doubt in our consuming public already misinformed on most pesticide issues.
Selling product in unsafe containers, selling to an unlicensed buyer, using unlicensed applicators, make applications in a careless manner, causing drift to a nearby field, and even selling unregistered products were all caught by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in 2012. And I have listed only a few of the violations.
In all, the industry paid nearly $50,000 in fines for 26 citations during the year.
Some might say that's not bad for a big industry. Yet, to me, because of the image damage done, one is too many.
In this day there is no excuse for not complying with pesticide regulations, and no way to ease out of blame by saying you didn't know the law.
That's particularly true when it comes to all of those citations for using unlicensed applicators. Kind of falls into the category of "what were you thinking?" when it comes to the reality of how closely ODA and ag departments in other states are watching us.
Some of the fines we against landscape companies, but when it comes to pesticide misuse, consumers continue to identify that mostly with ag.
While researchers talk a lot about replacing chemicals with management techniques that can control bugs and weeds and diseases, we're a long way from the era of chem-free farming, if that ever does become a reality. So, the time is now to use our products judiciously, by label, while sparing all the passes we can with proper alternative management methodology.
In the meantime, we endure a public relations ding as farmers who spray chemicals on the food people eat. While there is no public health threat as we do so, the image we wear is one of polluters. That's a sorry truth, but ours to bear.
Telling the public they are eating the safest food in the world doesn't seem to bring back much credit to our industry, since the mindset of John Q is mostly that if we're not organic, we're ogres.
Again, that our burden to bear.
What it boils down to is that if you are the biggest, best ag industry on the planet, you have to take the hits from the critics and keep on farming. Nevertheless, if you or your service is using chems and the people who apply them wrongly, you ought to get mean.
Farmers who deliberately violate pesticide regs should be targeted with criticism from within the business we do. Tolerance doesn't play a positive role here, but simply tells our consuming public that we're defensive about the wrong thing.
In the spirit of our progressive, proactive industry, hold high the sword of wrath when it comes to chemical malpractice.
After all, we are the good guys of American industry, and we have to behave like the bold heroes we must be to magically churn dirt into food, fiber and fuel for our city cousins.