Oregon farmers who grow genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa have filed a complaint seeking a declaration that a May 20, 2014, Jackson County ordinance banning Ge crops in the county conflicts with state law, or, in the alternative, damages “as just compensation for the forced destruction of their property.” Schulz Family Farms LLC v. Jackson Cnty., No. 14CV17636 (Jackson Cnty. Cir. Ct., Ore., filed November 18, 2014).
Claiming that (i) neighbors had never complained about its Ge crops, which are allegedly “more convenient and profitable to grow than conventional alfalfa,” and (ii) the farm will have to tear out Ge crops already planted and refrain from replanting conventional alfalfa for four years, the schulz Family Farms alleges damages in excess of $2.2 million. similarly, plaintiff James Frink alleges that he will have to tear out already-planted Ge alfalfa and “lose the benefit of the ten-year crop life if forced to tear out [the Ge crop]” at an alleged cost of $2 million. The plaintiffs allege that the county ban conflicts with the state’s Right to Farm and Forest Act, which purportedly limits the authority of local governments to “declare farming and forest practices to be nuisances or trespass.”
Alleging facial invalidity, the plaintiffs request declaratory and injunctive relief and also claim that the county’s mandatory harvest, destruction or removal of all Ge plants is “a per se and/or physical taking” or a regulatory taking “that requires the provision of just compensation to the plaintiffs under the state and federal Constitutions.”The plaintiffs further allege inverse condemnation.
Meanwhile, a coalition of conventional and organic farmers has reportedly called on the Jackson County commissioners to vigorously defend the lawsuit. According to a news source, a standing-room-only crowd made the request during a December 10 commissioners’ meeting. Our Family Farms Coalition has also apparently asked the county to oppose any potential court injunction that would stay the county ordinance’s implementation and enforcement. See Mail Tribune, December 10, 2014.