Herbicide blamed for crop damage in Whatcom County

BELLINGHAM — Organic farmers in Whatcom County say a herbicide contamination in the manure and compost they obtain from non-organic farms is causing severe crop damage.

The Bellingham Herald reports that farmers are linking the herbicide aminopyralid. They say cows ingest the herbicide through grass or silage tainted with it. The herbicide passes through the cows digestive system unchanged.

Farmer Kirk Hayes says the herbicide caused a loss of about $40,000 in the last two months from crop being damaged.

“It’s killed off most of our potato crop, our salad crops,” said Hayes, who sells his crops to local co-ops. “We’ve contaminated about seven and a half acres, it looks like.”

Aminopyralid was approved for use in the U.S. in 2005. It’s produced by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. Farmers use it for weed control.

Clayton Burrows, director of the nonprofit Growing Washington, says soil tests this year convinced him that the herbicide is linked to crop damage. The nonprofit operates Alm Hill Gardens and other organic farms in the area and he estimates losses in the hundreds of thousands.

The herbicide is not believed to pose a threat to humans or animals.

The contamination also poses a problem for dairies, which need places to get rid of cow manure. Many ship the manure to organic farms.

“There’s a lot of dairy waste that needs to get off of dairy farms,” said Colleen Burrows, integrated pest management coordinator at the Washington State University Whatcom County Extension office. “We need to have a place where that excess fertilizer … can go.”

George Boggs, executive director of the Whatcom Conservation District, said the contamination was almost certainly a mistake, rather than an intentional violation of the rules.

Dow spokesman Garry Hamlin said the company has not confirmed aminopyrali caused damage in Whatcom County, but he said the herbicide has caused similar problems elsewhere in the country.

“At present, we’re providing technical expertise and working closely with state regulatory authorities, and we are also in the process of meeting with concerned growers to get the facts and — if our product is, in fact, present in the compost — to find out the specifics of how and where label directions have not been followed and determine how to put a stop to it,” Hamlin said in an e-mail.

Information from: The Bellingham Herald, www.bellinghamherald.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

Lynnwood man arrested, released on $25K bond after road rage shooting

Deputies arrested the suspect, 20, for investigation of first-degree assault on Tuesday.

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

Most Read