Minnesota Supreme Court rules pesticide drift is not a trespass, but might be a nuisance


Knowledge Problem

Michael Giberson

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today that pesticide drifting across property lines onto an organic farmer’s crop does not constitute a trespass under state law. The court dismissed the trespass claim as well as accompanying claims asserting nuisance and negligence under laws that govern organic farming. The organic farming laws regulate what a producer can apply to his own crop, but not what may drift onto the crop from elsewhere. However, the court ruled that additional nuisance and negligence claims not grounded in the organic farming laws could advance, and that portion of the suit was remanded to a lower court for further action. The case is Johnson v. Paynesville Farmers Union Cooperative Oil Company.

The case has become somewhat noteworthy within the organic farming community as an effort in which a small organic family farmer is battling against big, conventional agriculture. (Example.)

We’ve been following it…

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