Josephine County voters rejected a ballot initiative banning most commercial pesticide use.
A proposed ban on commercial pesticide use in Oregon’s Josephine County was soundly rejected by voters, but supporters of the ballot initiative vow to regroup and continue fighting.
Measure 17-63, which would have prohibited licensed applicators from applying pesticides in the county but did not apply to residential properties, was defeated by a 2-1 margin.
Even if it had passed, the county initiative was would have been pre-empted by state law governing pesticides.
However, pesticide users and other opponents were worried that voter approval would have inspired vandalism, since the measure would allow citizens to take “direct action” if courts or local governments refused to enforce the ban.
The measure’s defeat shows most people recognize pesticides as a legitimate tool in agriculture, said Scott Dahlman, executive director of Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a group that opposed the ban.
“The voters spoke pretty strongly,” he said, noting that 67 percent voted against the initiative. “That’s a pretty loud voice.”
Audrey Moore, director of the Freedom from Pesticides Alliance, said she was disappointed by the results but heartened that roughly 11,000 county residents supported the measure.
Voters rejected the measure due to a biased ballot initiative summary printed by the county and a deluge of advertising by opponents, she said. “It was downright lies that were put out in the media.”
Even so, pesticide critics will continue to advocate against their use, she said. “It’s a topic that’s been swept under the carpet by the state for way too long and we’re not going away. We’re going to learn and go forward.”