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Humboldt County, CA November 5, 2013 Election
Smart Voter

The use of toxics on District properties

By George A. Wheeler

Candidate for Director; McKinleyville Community Services District

This information is provided by the candidate
Professional and public discourse regarding all the tools available to control pests is needed for District properties. The formalization of this process comprises an integrated management plan, which can include custom prescriptions for particular parcels. The point of including this letter regarding the Fischer Ranch, below, is to show that some folks in the affected neighborhood are taking a hard look at potential alternatives to toxics.
This is a copy of a letter sent to the Agriculture Commissioner in Humboldt and other folks in the decision tree.


The Fischer Ranch and possible applications of herbicides.

While we are not hay farmers, we do understand maximizing profit. Those who might wish to treat the Fischer Ranch with herbicides do not assume the risks associated with maximizing profit; they do not live here. We do.

There is no such thing as a safe poison. When using poisons, risks are weighed against benefits. In this case, the benefits accrue to the farmers, while the risks are assumed by the community. Thus, we have conflict.

If the Fischer Ranch were east of Nowhere, few would know or care what happened to the weeds, but this property is square in the middle of a residential neighborhood, bordered by a bike path on two sides, hiking trail on the other, day care, store, fish bearing river, and more than one Agent Orange Vet. Perhaps not the best place to be applying weed killers on a large scale?

If the request to spray were couched in terms of "making a competitive product", our Fischer Ranch offers several advantages: The lease for the land is minimal (in fact, locals have considered out-bidding the farmers for this lease). Irrigation and fertilizer is provided for free. Plenty of acreage, free water, and free fertilizer would seem to be a major advantage in the market place.

As for the market place,

Humboldt County does not have a certified weed free hay inspection program. Hay produced in Humboldt County is consumed within Humboldt County and is not exported. Humboldt County does import hay from other areas. Hay produced in Humboldt is either sold as conventional or organic.

Organic producers are not allowed to use herbicides or fertilize. Their hay can be sold at a premium. Producers and buyers accept that there will be weeds in it. Weeds are often palatable, nutritious, and high protein. However, hay with mature thistle in it, due to the spines, would be a problem for many types of livestock, particularly horses.

Where the Fischer Ranch is concerned, a recent inspection by a Range Specialist, who lives nearby, revealed the following-

"Irrigated haying areas: orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata), bitter dock (Rumex obtusifolius), alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and rose clover (Trifolium hirtum)

Surrounding Areas, non-irrigated with reclaimed treatment water: California mountain brome (Bromus carinatus), velvet grass (Holcus lanatus), Italian rye grass (Festuca perennis),wild oat (Avena fatua), wild radish (Raphanus sativus), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetocella), wartweed(Euphorbia helioscopa), hairy cat's ear (Hypochaeris radicata), Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota), ox eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare, English plantain (Plantago lanceolata) hedge nettle (Stachys ajugoides), pale flax (Linum bienne), bristly ox tongue (Picris echioides), and bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare).

Based on what species they're trying to purge from the pasture, treatments can vary wildly. Right now, that is some seriously rich pasture. It's deeper and lusher than it appears from the road."

Our voice now:

Many farmers believe they MUST till, but there is another way. The search term we used: "Seed Drills." These can be rented or purchased. Seed drills have been used for centuries. They boast precise application depth and the ability to uniquely feed the seed, thus tremendously increasing yields. Plus, the huge advantage of not tilling and bringing weed seeds to the surface.

The use of a seed drill can improve the ratio of crop yield by as much as nine times.

We live here. There must be a better way to farm the ranch than to expose all of us to the risks associated with commercial, large scale applications of poison. Please make sure that all alternatives have been investigated before you ask us to put ourselves, the environment, and our children at risk of exposure across the fence. Herbicides do not respect fence lines.

Thank you

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