Ecology fines farm, B&G responds | News
The Washington Department of Ecology announced Thursday that it is fining B&G Farms and owner Mike Brown $20,000 for not stopping “extreme erosion” on his Grant County farm.
The grievance originated when a storm of varying severity – depending on who you ask – hit the Smyrna Bench area on July 20, 2012. Due to the storm, a “large amount of soil” was sent “down the hill and into Lower Crab Creek, covering the road, smothering fish habitat, and polluting the creek with mud,” a news release from Ecology read.
But, B&G contends that the storm was more powerful than what Ecology contends, a written statement from the farm said the storm “destroyed fields and crops and flooded everything in its path … This article implies that the soil going down the hill was the sole cause of smothering fish and polluting the creek with mud. We do not think it even contributed to the situation.”
Ecology contends that Brown did not do enough to avoid the eroision “even though Brown signed a settlement agreement in 2004 requiring the use of best management farming practices to avoid erosion.”
According to Ecology, Brown has been reprimanded numerous times for not ensuring practices that minimize soil erosion – the department penalized the farm $9,000 in 2008 for not incorporating said practices. But, B&G attorney Patrick Acres doesn't think that the department is being fair.
“It is an absolute misstatement that Mr. Brown has taken no measures to avoid erosion,” he said in the written statement. “This statement is intended to mislead and cause harm to Mr. Brown for whatever reason.”
Ecology said it has ordered the farm to create a new policy that will end destructive erosion, and that the plan must be turned in by March 30, 2013, while B&G is preparing to fight the fine.
“Ecology is putting the horse before the cart,” Acres said. “There has been no fine levied or hearing on the issue.”