Organic Herb Farm Wins Case Against Pesticide Drift

Reader Contribution by Staff

In the ongoing war between neighboring organic and conventional farms over the issue of pesticide drift, one organic herb operation has won a key battle. 

Jacobs Farm in Santa Cruz, Calif. was failing to meet the guidelines for organic certification of their edible herbs, thanks to the organophosphate pesticides that had drifted over from neighboring vegetable farms. The presence of the chemicals prevented them from selling parts of their harvest. 

What makes this case notable is that not only was Jacobs Farm granted $1 million in damages, but a new precedent was set. The neighboring farms weren’t egregiously careless with the application of the pesticides — the chemicals were evaporating into the air and then drifting over to Jacobs Farm. Currently, there is no formal regulation of evaporative drift, as there is for contamination arising from aerial spraying. 

On September 29, a Santa Cruz County jury ruled that the pesticides’ supplier was negligent, and had deprived Jacobs Farm of the right to use and enjoy the land (which they were leasing from a state park). 

An appeal has been filed by the pesticides’ supplier. Read the full news release from Environment News Service here.