Maine broccoli producer voices concerns for state crop following pesticide sanctions
In the wake of the discovery of use of an illegal pesticide by a large Maine broccoli farm, one state producer voiced concern that consumers may lose confidence in the state’s crop.
Emerald Valley Ranch in Caribou was ordered to destroy a large portion of its crop after state regulators found chlorpyrifos, ordered phased out in Maine in 2021 and banned by the EPA the same year. Emerald Valley admitted to using the product after it was detected in a July 14 shipment, according to reports in the Bangor Daily News.
Emily Smith, CEO of Smith’s Farm, the East Coast’s largest broccoli producer, told the paper that she worries that Emerald Valley’s actions could have a ripple effect.
“We wouldn’t wish ill to anyone, but it’s disappointing and disheartening if someone would jeopardize Maine broccoli,” Smith told the Bangor publication. “If people decide not to eat broccoli because (a farm) did that, then our crop is in jeopardy when we didn’t do that.”
Smith’s Farm grows 4,000 acres of broccoli, with growing concentrated in Maine, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Chlorpyrifos has been linked to neurological development issues in children.
The Bangor Daily News obtained a copy of a July 24 letter Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal sent to Emerald Valley owner Drew Ayer.
Laboratory testing found broccoli from the farm contained chlorpyrifos, which the farm admitted to using in multiple fields, Beal said in the letter. She condemned the affected produce and ordered it destroyed on site under department oversight.
The farm’s crops will be subject to testing for the rest of the year.
“The broccoli, believed to be refrigerated trucks at your farm and ready for shipment into commerce, is found to be unsound … and therefore, it is declared to be a nuisance,” the letter reads in part.
Emerald Valley did not respond to requests for comment from the Bangor Daily News.
California produces the most broccoli in the U.S., though it is now grown in nearly every state, according to a report, revised in October 2021, from Iowa State University’s Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Per person consumption of fresh broccoli increased from 1.4 pounds in 1980 to 7.1 pounds in 2017.