National briefs: Mexican court forbids U.S. potatoes

Wisconsin State Farmer


Couple says insurer won't pay for dairy farm losses 

Owners of a Tillamook County dairy farm say a couple leasing their property stole more than 200 of their cows - as well as tools and equipment - and the landlords are suing their insurer in federal court for failing to cover the losses. 

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Robert and Janet Chatelain leased with an option to own the Dairy Farm in Cloverdale to a couple in December 2009. At the time, the farm had about 230 milking cows, 166 heifers, two bulls and a shop full of tools needed to run the operation. 

Nearly four years later, the owners say they evicted their tenants because of a lease violation. When the owners moved back to their property, they discovered 113 milking cows and 100 heifers were missing. 

The Chatelains accuse County Mutual of failing to fully investigate their claims of vandalism and property damage before denying their claim in 2015. The insurance company says the couple failed to file property claims for property damage and vandalism. 

"This was a civil dispute. This was a breach of a lease that the Chatelains should have handled in state court," company lawyer Daniel E. Thenell said. "Saying the cows were missing is not the issue. The plaintiffs have to prove the cows were stolen in this policy period. It's tragic, but it's not a theft." 


Runaway bull shot, killed after evading capture

Police say they did not take lightly the decision to shoot a bull that escaped from a Massachusetts livestock auction.

A national farm animal protection group on Aug. 21 called the animal's death a "senseless killing."

Police in Littleton said the bull that had been roaming the area since its escape on Aug. 15, and was heading back toward a busy road Sunday, Aug. 20 when an officer, concerned for the safety of drivers, fired two shots. The animal's owner arrived and fired a fatal shot after determining it was suffering and could not be saved.

Susie Coston, national shelter director for Farm Sanctuary, said alternatives such as tranquilizers could have been used to catch the bull.



Mexican court forbids imports of US potatoes 

A Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling that bans the import of U.S. potatoes on the grounds the imports violate Mexicans' right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment. 

A group of Mexican potato growers had sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming they threaten to spread agricultural diseases. 

The court said Mexican agricultural authorities had failed to use methods like radiation treatment of imports to prevent diseases. 

But because federal injunctions are intended only to protect constitutional rights, the ruling had to break some new ground. 

The court ruled the ban must be implemented to preserve Mexicans' collective rights to "preserve food sovereignty and the health of Mexican crop fields." 

The agriculture department had no immediate comment on the ruling. 


Arkansas panel formed to look at herbicide problems 

A task force has been formed in Arkansas to look at an herbicide that was temporarily banned by the state after facing hundreds of complaints from farmers who say it's caused damage to their crops. 

The Agriculture Department on Monday announced the 19 members who will serve on the task force to review dicamba, investigate problems with its use and make long term recommendations. The panel held its first meeting on Aug. 17. 

Dicamba is a relatively inexpensive weed killer, but can drift and damage nearby row crops such as soybeans and cotton in addition to fruit and vegetable farms and ornamental trees. The state has temporarily banned its sale and use. The Plant Board has received more than 845 complaints this year about dicamba's use. 


Traps set west of Portland overflow with Japanese beetles 

Traps set in the Portland area caught 12,000 Japanese beetles. 

The Capital Press Agriculture Weekly reported Wednesday the traps were set in conjunction with an Oregon Department of Agriculture eradication campaign to kill off the invasive pests that can cause major damage to home gardens and to nursery, vegetable, vineyard and orchard crops. 

This past spring, department contractors treated the grounds of about 2,400 residences on 1.56 square miles (4.04 square kilometers) west of Portland with a granular form of the insecticide Acelepryn. 

Adult beetles laying eggs this summer were not harmed, but grubs that hatch in the treated areas will ingest the insecticide and die, interrupting the generational cycle. The ag department planned five years of annual treatments, a pattern that has worked in other states. 


State investigating blueberry farm after temp worker dies 

State officials have launched an investigation into a Sumas blueberry farm to determine if any workplace conditions caused the death of a temporary worker who died Aug. 6.

Honesto Silva Ibarra went to a Bellingham clinic complaining of headaches after picking berries at Sarbanand Farms. The 28-year-old collapsed and later died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. 

The Seattle Times reported that Washington Labor and Industries spokesman Tim Church said the agency opened two separate investigations: workplace safety with health inspection and employment standards. 

Church says the first investigation will determine if "this was a workplace-related death and, if so, how," and the second will determine if workers were getting paid on time, and if they had appropriate rest and meals. 

Ibarra, a father of three, was on a temporary, agricultural-worker visa, H-2A, from Mexico.