2,4-D Drift: Organic Nightmare

Tractor of death. The tree in the foreground is on our side of the property line.

Yesterday morning, I was all doodly-do, doing my morning stuffs, when I heard big machinery noise, closer than normal (they’re working on the county roads around us right now). I went outside and couldn’t see anything, and then all of a sudden there was a crop-spraying tractor, complete with two big white chemical tanks and two giant boom arms, spraying the shit out of our neighbor’s acreage. I called the husband and said, “Holy shit, they’re spraying chemicals on the front acreage” and he suggested I stop the guy and talk to him, so I did.  What follows made me later throw up my lunch.

Me: *Hailing tractor guy*
TG: *Stops tractor and comes over*
Me: Hi, are we neighbors?
Him: Nope, I'm working for the guy who leases this parcel, M*******.
Me: Whatcha sprayin'?
Him: 2,4-D, for goat weed.
Me: Oh. Um, we have an organic farm over here and it's drifting onto my 
property...
Him: Welllll, the wind's mostly blowing my way and it's a real light spray, 
so you oughtta be all right.
Me: You're kidding, right?
Him: *Goes right on spraying*

2,4-D. Mother-humping goat fuckers. This devil juice makes (and I’m not exaggerating in the least) RoundUp look like harmless chemical Kool-Aid. Dow AgroSciences’ contribution to the weed-killing business is the main defoliant contained in Agent Orange. It’s been around since 1946.  It is under attack again (thank God) because Dow is trying to get approval for its 2,4-D Resistant Corn, to take the place of Monsanto’s failed RoundUp Resistant Corn, which created super bugs and super weeds, and is no longer able to withstand RoundUp bombardment because of genetic mutations. Genius! (It’s in the EPA’s lap right now; let’s all count on them to do the right thing, right?) It’s a DEFOLIANT, which means it kills plants dead. What it doesn’t kill, it mutates. It’s suspected as a cause of “…major health problems such as cancer, lowered sperm counts, liver toxicity and Parkinson’s disease. Lab studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression.”

If you’ve followed my blog for even a short amount of time, you know how I feel about chemicals in our farms, ranches, food supply. Here, about Colony Collapse Disorder; here about pesticides and BPA; here about Monsatan, again, and again, and again.

We’re out here in a tiny patch of Texas, practicing only organic gardening, using compost, organic fertilizers, organic topsoil and mulch, Neem oil, blood, sweat, tears, dreams, and hand-weeding. Do y’all know how much EASIER it is to be conventional in a garden? Of course we could use RoundUp for the weeds; it’s an extremely effective, efficient killer! Of COURSE we could use Sevin insecticide! It’d be way easier than having to get up extra-early to apply Neem oil, or smooshing cabbage rollers by hand. We did ALL OF THIS SPECIFICALLY  TO KEEP CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR FOOD.

“Before” picture of the big garden.

Just writing this post is making me cry. I cried yesterday when I fully realized what had just happened to us. I pulled up my research on 2,4-D and found lots of new stuff, all horrifying. I learned about ground permeation, wind drift patterns, plant aspiration, and the life of 2,4-D. I contacted a professor/friend at Texas A&M’s Ag Sciences Department. He shared with me that tomatoes are especially sensitive to 2,4-D, and to keep an eye on them first. He told me to keep photo documentation of the plants in case the rancher might not do the right thing by us.

And of COURSE tomatoes are affected first and worst. They’re the crop we’ve most heavily planted, in the greatest variety. We were looking forward to canning, sharing, and perhaps selling a few to our chef friends.

I’m upset still, even after I learned the leaseholder’s name (who’s responsible for the spraying), contacted him (no response), found out the regulations he violated*, and reported him to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Tomatoes galore.

I’m upset for several reasons. We started this entire farm endeavor with one goal in mind: organic sustainability. That has been ruined. I can no longer bill these vegetables as organic, and we now have to decide if we even want to eat them ourselves. I’m upset because to get rid of this poison (assuming it doesn’t kill the crops outright), I’ll have to pay to have the site dozed, replace the topsoil and amendments, and start all over. All the little baby plants we started from organic seeds in our little greenhouse, misting and lighting and thinning for MONTHS, then lovingly potted to harden off, then transplanted and agonized over for months while they struggled to grow, all fucking ruined. A’s first gardens EVER, all ruined. Every hour we spent digging, weeding, fertilizing, watering, pruning, caging, and loving these gardens have been fucking RUINED by this dude’s careless disregard for anybody but himself.

*Prior Notification: Nope. None given.

Proper notification for use of methyl, ethyl, butyl, isopropyl, octylamyl and pentyl esters. Nope.

No use in winds higher than 10 mph? Fucked that up, too.

Amine-only 2,4-D? Don’t know. I doubt he even obtained a permit to do the spraying.

I’m going to use this blog as I do regularly, but now with the added feature of keeping record of what’s happening to our plants, and what’s happening about enforcing the regulations. If I didn’t have a place to vent, I might possibly go mad.

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20 thoughts on “2,4-D Drift: Organic Nightmare

  1. My heart has fallen out of my chest and the tears are streaming down my face for you guys, I can not even fathom what you are going through. I know all of the hard work that goes into having an organic garden. All of my love and hugs for you right now.

  2. SaraC says:

    Awful! Awful! I hope you can sue the pants off em. Wish I was a tort lawyer in Texas (instead of a criminal defense lawyer in California) – I would volunteer!

  3. Damn, damn, Damn, Donna…..I can’t express my anger……..sue that shit for every fricking thing he owns and make the media aware as possible!

  4. hang in there girl. hoping for the best. doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest sometimes.

  5. Wow, this is so awful. I have a friend in Oregon won is fighting the same battle on her organic pear orchard. She has had whole sections of established trees die off from the neighbors poisonous drift, and is about to lose her organic certification because of it. It seems like prior notification would just be a common courtesy among friendly farmers. It’s scary that spraying these poisons has become so normal, that we don’t even think to warn each other or even mention it!

  6. Natasha Show says:

    I am so angry for you right now. That’s horrible!!

  7. Libby Keane says:

    Oh Donna, My heart goes out to you. I’m am so sorry this happened. You’re right to be angry. No consideration. When will they learn? Perhaps you could bring him over a nice basket of tomatoes.

  8. eremophila says:

    My heart goes out to you also. May you get all the legal support you require, to bring some justice into this terrible situation. Hang in there, don’t let the bastards get you down. ♥

  9. eremophila says:

    Reblogged this on Eremophila’s Musings and commented:
    A horrendous situation, tragically all too commonplace.

  10. Oh Donna & Allan – I dont have the words that express what I’m feeling….all that hard work, the hours…you made me tired just reading and seeing what you were doing. I’m wiping tears away & Jim asked what’s up – he just said “People are assholes, tell DonDon I love her” – that’s Jim for ya 🙂 Big prayers and Karma your way ❤

  11. I’m so sorry this has happened to you guys. I was getting choked up to, for you, and because I remembering hauling my step mom and little brother to the ER after an aerial sprayer covered our small acreage. They both felt the liquid hit them in a mist, and immediately began forming huge red welts all over their bodies. That was 15 years ago, and we still do not know what they were spraying. But that was also the year all our bees died. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. *hugs* and Aloha.

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