By Donna Westfall
At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, May 26th, there was standing room only in a packed chamber. A number of people spoke to the Board detailing the problems and risks of pesticides used in Smith River Lilly farms. The Crockett family got into lilly growing in the 1980’s. In 2007, the lilly farms netted $7 million in income. Nothing to sneeze at. There are five families that grow lillies in the Smith River.
The lilly bulb business is labor intensive and the use of pesticides helps their production. But the flip side of pesticide use creates numerous problems:
The problems to fish and aquatic life were detailed. Blowing winds spreading the spray throughout the area and around schools affecting the children also detailed. A physician reciting cases of household after household battling cancer and more cancer were recited. Some challenge that the beef raised on their lands cannot be considered “organic.”
Reports presented by the Water Board were called “Voodoo Science,” as anyone could see their testing was not nearly sufficient.
Board Chairman, Finigan, citing concern about the safety and health to our residents, visitors and tourists sounded hollow.
But the thing that caught my attention was The Risk of Litigation.
Tom Wheeler, the legal director of the Environmental Protection Information Center or EPIC, spoke about their organization being around since 1977. They represent the people of the North Coast and fighting for the defense of our environment.
He went on to describe using litigation as a tool for environmental conservation. He alluded to the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act violations and a few others.
This brings us to lawsuits in general against the County and that brings us to Trindel Insurance which deserves an article all by itself.
It will be interesting to watch this play out in the upcoming months. Will the lilly growers be receptive to using more organic products if there’s even anything on the market that will keep their profit margins on an even keel? Will they self-regulate so that their use of pesticides will diminish or stop when the wind blows? Will they be as concerned with the water, ground and people their pesticide use is affecting?
Or will the courts have to be involved to litigate this and certainly cause an impact to the bottom line of the lilly growers should they be resistant to change? Because change is coming like it or not.