Its unanimous: Carey council backs aerial crop spraying
Health impact is dominant issue
"Im sad to be at this meeting. Im sorry to have to
defend my livelihood."
Inge Molyneux, Carey farmer
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
The Carey City Council, after listening to neighbor debate neighbor over
aerial chemical spraying of farm land within city limits, unanimously decided to allow the
practice to continue.
Technically, the council cant directly ban spraying. Only the state
can do this.
But the panel can decide whether or not to continue issuing letters to the
pilots, called "aerial applicators," granting them authority to fly over the
Councilman Dan Parke made the motion last Tuesday for the city to continue
issuing permission letters that green light the application of "pesticide/herbicides
within the municipal boundaries of the city of Carey." The only change was to alter
language describing crop pest-controlling chemicals from "pesticide/herbicides"
The three dozen or so Carey area residents who showed up for the meeting
reflected the communitys division over aerial spraying.
Pro-spraying farmers sat next to their neighbors whose homes back up to
farm fields where spraying occurs. Many in this latter group were concerned over
sprayings health impact.
Before opening discussion on the controversial issue, Council President
Bob Simpson, in charge of the meeting in Mayor Rick Bairds absence, admonished the
audience that all comment should be addressed to the council. If there was any shouting or
shenanigans, he said, he would close the public hearing.
Setting aside time to hear residents voice their views on aerial crop
spraying stemmed from the councils June 20 meeting when it heard the concerns of
Jerry and Diana Decker and Kaye Sparks, all of Carey.
The Deckers and Sparks presented the council with a petition of 39 names
calling for the city to ban "the practice of airplane spraying" within the city.
Their primary concern was the health of their children, the elderly and the sick.
At first, when Simpson asked for public comment at the Tuesday council
session, no one volunteered. So he asked two representatives of the Idaho Department of
Agriculture, who had been invited to attend by the council, to introduce themselves.
They were Rod Gabehart, a Twin Falls-based senior agricultural
investigator for the agencys south central region; and Jim Baker, a Boise-based
Carey resident Ron Hill started the public discussion. He wanted to know
if aerial applicators were bonded.
Gabehart said the applicators were required by Idaho to be financially
responsible for the consequences of their work.
Jerry Decker, a critic of aerial spraying, then told the council he had an
additional 15 names to add to the 39 on the petition calling for an end to spraying.
Many who signed, he said, were uncomfortable about their public position
because they were "fearful of repercussions."
Nevertheless, he said, the petitioners were concerned about spraying
"not in general, but about overspraying and the effect on the community."
Sprayings impact on residents health is of primary concern, he
"To say these things are safe is absurd," he said. "The
[federal] EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is investigating these chemicals right
Lita Hansen of Carey had her own list of names to present to the
councila petition in support of the farmers pro-spraying position.
Approximately 105 people, she said, signed their names to the following
"We the undersigned wish to show our support of the farming community
of Carey. We endorse their efforts to maintain their agricultural ground by the means they
see fit, whether by ground and/or aerial spraying."
A popular speaker was Inge Molyneux, a member of a Carey farming family.
The first thing she did was present the council with a copy of a story in
the Mountain Express (July 12) on crop spraying. She said it provided a starting
point in an effort to understand the dynamics of aerial spraying.
"I dont think we have to be hostile" about aerial
spraying, she said, but "we do have to have common sense.
"I send my kids inside the house when I hear a crop duster."
Then, again, she said she is the kind of person who makes sure
"everyone has their safety belts on" before she starts driving.
She had nothing but praise for the applicator pilots.
"These pilots are so incredible," she said. "Theyre
like the Blue Angels."
Molyneux argued against the perception that farmers were overspraying
Farmers, she said, dont use expensive chemicals lightlynot
when the last time she applied chemicals to her farm it cost $300 a gallon.
"Im sad to be at this meeting," she said. "Im
sorry to have to defend my livelihood."
Applause broke out as she took her seat.
Then, Wendy Noble of Carey attempted to frame what she saw as a bottom
"I want to ask farmers what would happen if they didnt
spray," she asked.
As several farmers began to respond, one voice was heard above the rest:
"Wed be broke in a year."