Blueberries close-up

An Oregon farmer alleges herbicide drift damaged his blueberry bushes.

An Oregon blueberry grower is seeking $2 million in damages from alleged herbicide drift from a neighboring property owned by a major California-based agriculture company.

William Vandehey of Cornelius has filed a lawsuit alleging that an employee of Munger Bros. of Delano, California, sprayed glyphosate on an adjacent field during sustained winds of up to 20 mph in May 2020.

Drift from the spray operation caused “severe and long lasting damage” to Vandehey’s blueberry bushes, which lost at least half their crop during last year’s growing season, the complaint said.

Vandehey alleges that a representative of Munger Bros. admitted to using glyphosate to an investigator from the Oregon Department of Agriculture but “misrepresented and falsified” the spray operation’s “extent and duration” to cover up the damage.

Apart from the direct crop losses suffered last year, the herbicide damage is expected to reduce Vandehey’s blueberry yields for 3 to 6 years, the complaint said.

The complaint accuses Munger Bros. of trespass and negligence that caused nearly $1 million in lost profits, income and other financial damages.

To make up for decreased revenues, Vandehey may have to sell property and farm equipment, according to the lawsuit. “In the event that plaintiff is unable to secure financing to continue caring for and farming the damaged blueberry bushes, plaintiff reserves the right to replead its damages for a total loss of the family farm.”

Vandehey is also seeking $1 million in punitive damages because Munger Bros. acted with “malice and a reckless and outrageous indifference” by allegedly misting his elderly parents with the herbicide and trying to cover up the incident.

Capital Press was unable to reach a representative of Munger Bros. for comment on the lawsuit. The company is a fruit processor and packer in addition to growing crops on more than 3,000 acres in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

(1) comment

SherryL

How about adding in the damage from the forest fires? Ash and debris filled the sky, for months!

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