End spraying

To the Editor:

Last year, I called blueberry growers outside of Hancock County and found, to my excitement, not one grower still using aerial pesticide spraying. When I asked Merrill Blueberry Farms if they were still aerial spraying their fields, they said, “no, far too many people were upset about the aerial spraying, and we wanted to be good neighbors.”

According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, “in late 2004 and early 2005, Maine’s two largest blueberry growers, Cherryfield Foods Inc. and Jasper Wyman & Son, agreed to halt aerial pesticide spraying after a coalition of Maine environmental groups threatened to sue the companies for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.”

There is a growing movement in Maine to end archaic aerial spraying. Only Hancock County has blueberry growers that still aerial spray. Some of the toxic chemicals include Sinbar, Direx, Guthion, Mustang Max and Velossa (label information available online).

Maine law currently states that people who live within 1,000 feet of an aerial-sprayed blueberry field have the right to notification by phone and email from the blueberry companies. I think a 5-mile radius of aerial spraying would be more appropriate, as I recently have witnessed fields sprayed during 10 mph winds, and smelled the spray at a distance of three miles

Once, and for generations, the entire state of Maine practiced this method of pesticide application. One by one, communities are asking their blueberry growing neighbors to end this practice, and the growers are saying “yes.”

The blueberry growers and their families are good people and should not be vilified. They are doing what they have been doing for generations. So please, send love to our hard-working growers. Say “please” and “thank you” and ask them if they could stop aerial spraying like the rest of the blueberry growers in the state. Soon, we will celebrate blueberry growers in the entire state of Maine for ending their practice of aerial spraying pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

Joanne Steenberg


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