Organic farmer proposes map for properties that don't want pesticides

By Terri Harber June 28, 2013 08:53 am

By Terri Harber

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A local certified organic farmer has spearheaded an effort to map areas of Baker County where crops or people could be harmed if they are in the way of pesticide applications.

Representatives from the city, county and Oregon State University came to a meeting Wednesday to find a way to reduce the annual community conflicts that occur during the summer spraying season.

Dick Haines first spoke to Baker County Commissioners in September 2012 after repeated aerial spraying of insecticide.

That spraying was done to ward off development of zebra chip disease in local potato fields.

Haines pointed out that the mapping would be a voluntary effort. It would provide information to those applying chemicals so they can avoid areas where people and crops could be negatively affected by applications.

No one really knows how many organic farmers grow produce in Baker County, Haines said.

He also pointed out that he heard from a woman who was concerned about chemcial use on crops because of her health. She is a cancer survivor. 

Baker City Manager Mike Kee said there was a substantial amount of ag property within the city and its outskirts. He suspects this effort will be of interest to many residents.

A resident with concerns about chemicals and genetically modified produce as well as a local farmer also attended the meeting.

Haines emphasized that the effort wasn’t an attempt to stop spraying but to make it less harmful to people and crops on adjacent properties.

 “There is a chance for a little win-win,” Haines said.

There would be a few paper copies but for convenience the maps would be electronic.

Haines would like to see the city, county, OSU Extension and other high-traffic local web sites link to the main web site where the map would be featured.  

There will be only three to four weeks for concerned residents and farmers to try to get on the map.

It’s not a lot of time, and the spraying for this season probably will have commenced, Haines said. 

What will be needed from the people who want their property avoided by chemical appliers is their name, address, telephone number and tax lot number.

For details, call Haines at 541-403-2710. He is also a principal with the group New Hope for East Oregon Animals.