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2019 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

Railroads can be bad neighbors for vineyards say 5 pesticide incidents in Sonoma & Contra Costa Counties

Pesticide over-spray errors from railway right-of-way weed treatment pose a very real danger to vineyards, orchards and other crops according to five recent North Bay damage reports. The reports come from the Agricultural Commissioner and Superior Court in Contra Costa County, the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Those reports include:

  • Four wine grape vineyard complaints in Contra Costa County (two of which are also the subject of lawsuits) against BNSF Railway and its contractors, and,
  • A fine affirmed on appeal at the state level for a Northern Pacific Railroad contractor whose over-spray damaged a wine grape vineyard in the Healdsburg area.

There may be more over-spray BNSF cases because the BNSF rail line runs directly from the affected vineyards through farmland to Stockton.

However, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner has not replied to Wine Industry Insight requests for information. BNSF’s rail line from Contra Costa County to Stockton connects with a major BNSF line which runs most of the length of the Central Valley .

BNSF did not respond to our request for comment. In addition, the California Association of Winegrape Growers did not respond to our email asking if they tracked these sorts of incidents.

One  Contra Costa County vineyard lawsuit was reported by WII in January.

The remainder of this 1,444-word article with maps, court and regulatory documents are available to Wine Executive News Premium Subscribers.

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Also in this issue:

  • Contractor in Healdsburg vineyard over-spray tries (and fails) to blame damage on others

  • DPR affirms Sonoma Ag Commission decision

  • Knightsen Complaint similar to Mulehead/Oakley

  • Imazapyr, Flumioxazin and Glyphosate Over-Spray

  • Two More Contra Costa Vineyards hit

Original Documents for Wine Executive News premium subscribers

  • Oakley (Mulehead) Complaint – Contra Costa County

  • Northern Pacific Railroad – Sonoma County

  • Knightsen Complaint – Contra Costa County