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Herbicide contamination blamed for crop damage

Organic farmers in Whatcom County say that a herbicide contamination in the manure and compost they obtain from nonorganic farms is causing severe crop damage.

The Bellingham Herald reported that farmers are linking the herbicide aminopyralid. The farmers say cows ingest the herbicide through grass contaminated with it.

Farmer Kirk Hayes said the herbicide killed off most of his potato crop this year — a loss of about $40,000 in the last two months.

Aminopyralid was approved for use in the U.S. in 2005. It’s produced by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. Farmers use it for weed control.

Clayton Burrows, director of the nonprofit Growing Washington, said soil tests this year convinced him that the herbicide is linked to crop damage.

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