The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is refusing to pay compensation to two Idaho families who say a pesticide treatment contaminated their crops and poisoned their cows.
The USDA told the families to file a lawsuit if they wish to claim compensation, an act that could bring farmers to bankruptcy and risk the $70 million potato pest eradication program in Idaho.
The Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) was discovered in 2006, threatening Idaho’s $900 million potato industry. The next year, the USDA began treating infected fields with methyl bromide. The treatment reduced the pest, but it was stopped in 2014 because of concerns from a grower, said Brian Marschman, State Plant Health Director for APHIS, a branch of USDA.
Among those concerns were cattle with oozing lesions and spontaneously aborted calves, according to Idaho State Department of Agriculture documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The Eldredge-Kelley family, one of…
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