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Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
October 3, 2019
Lincoln County Aerial Application Ban Overturned; Statewide Petitions Also Rejected by Oregon Secretary of State

Almost two years after oral arguments were made against the Lincoln County aerial herbicide ban, a circuit judge issued a decision invalidating the ban that was narrowly passed by Lincoln County voters in May 2017.


Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Bachart ruled that Oregon’s Pesticide Control Act prevents local government regulation of pesticides, including aerial application.


“Since the ordinance seeks by its very terms to regulate pesticide use, the county is completely pre-empted under state law from adopting any ordinance regarding pesticide use,” the judge said.


Judge Bachart rejected arguments by local activists who argued the ordinance’s legality was supported by the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Oregon Constitution, calling these claims “misplaced and without legal precedent.”


Local landowner Rex Capri filed the lawsuit shortly after the ban was passed because he relies on aerially applied herbicides to control weeds on his land.


Activists have vowed to appeal the ruling and said the judge “did not substantively consider” their argument that local self-government “must prevail against state pre-emption when exercised to protect health, safety and welfare.”

Statewide Initiative Petitions Also Rejected

Additionally, the Oregon Secretary of State rejected initiative petitions 35, 36 and 37. These potential state-wide ballot initiatives include arbitrary notification periods ranging from 14 to 21 days before an application can be made, and 500-foot buffer zones for aerial applications. The Oregon Secretary of State said the petitions did not meet the “single subject requirement” that ballot measures can only alter a single regulation at a time.   


The petitioners can now either redraft and submit new petitions, sue the Oregon Secretary of State to overturn the decision, or both. The petitioners have 60 days to decide if they will sue for the decision to be overturned.  If the petitioners choose to submit new petitions, they must collect an additional 1,000 signatures for to the Secretary of State to have a ballot title drafted and begin the full signature collection process. Next, 112,020 signatures are required to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Signatures must be turned into the Secretary of State by July 2, 2020.


While both of these rulings are welcome news, NAAA will continue to work with Oregonians for Food and Shelter to monitor for state and local initiatives intended to curb the safe and judicious aerial use of crop protection products.

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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