Thursday, April 7, 2005
Blueberry grower agrees to halt aerial pesticide spraying
By JOHN RICHARDSON, Portland Press Herald Writer
Maine's second-largest blueberry farm has agreed to stop the aerial
spraying of pesticides, becoming the second Down East company to switch to
ground-based spraying in the face of a threatened lawsuit.
Jasper Wyman & Son made the announcement Wednesday after informing
four environmental groups that filed a formal notice in March to say they
would sue the company under the Clean Water Act. Aerial spraying, they
argue, violates the law because the pesticides can drift into sensitive
streams and rivers and threaten Atlantic salmon and other resources.
Ed Flanagan, Wyman's president, said in March that the company would
not change its practices because it had already taken precautions to protect
the environment and because land-based spraying would not be feasible for
its 7,000-acre farm. He maintained in a written statement issued Wednesday
that the company's spraying does not harm the environment.
"Nonetheless," he wrote, "rather than spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars on litigation that could drag on for years, we have decided to
abandon aerial spraying and use ground spraying instead."
Maine's largest blueberry grower, Cherryfield Foods Inc., agreed in
October to stop aerial spraying, after the same environmental groups
threatened to sue it. Both Cherryfield and Wyman grow berries in Washington
The environmental groups issued their own written statement saying
Wyman's decision would have immediate benefits for the environment and
wildlife around the farm. They also said they hope the decision leads others
in the industry to stop the practice.
"By abandoning aerial spraying, Wyman, along with Cherryfield Foods,
is setting an example we hope will become the new standard for the blueberry
industry and for other agricultural activities," Will Everitt of Toxics
Action Center said in the statement. The other groups were Environment
Maine, the Sierra Club and Beyond Pesticides.
Jasper Wyman and Son