Crops Damaged by Herbicide – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports


(WSVN) – A South Florida farmer loves his fruit trees, but when a fellow farmer started spraying an herbicide, the spray blew on his trees, killing some fruit. If a neighbor sprays your plants or even your garden, is he/she responsible for the damage? Let’s bring Help Me Howard into play with Patrick Fraser.

Most people have jobs. Lots of people have hobbies. Very few are the same.

Jose Rodriguez: “I really enjoy farming and it’s my hobby and it’s my job.”

When Jose Rodriguez retired, he was able to focus on his South Dade farm to grow what he loves: avocados, bananas and his favorite fruit, lychee.

Jose Rodriguez: “I loved it so much I said, ‘One day I’ll have enough lychees to eat to my heart’s content.’

He had a lot to enjoy last season.

Then there is this year.

Jose Rodriguez: “It’s like the monkeypox of the plant world. That’s what happens when they spray it with herbicides.”

In March, Jose said his neighbor sprayed an herbicide on his field.

Jose Rodriguez: “The wind was blowing in excess of 35 mph and in Dade County you are not allowed to spray or do anything in winds exceeding 12 mph.”

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When Jose saw the spray, which was being developed to kill weeds, hit his trees, he tried to stop it, but the damage was done near the fence line.

Jose Rodriguez: “When they did that, all the fruit fell off the trees, and when the trees are damaged like that by the herbicide, they get diseases.”

Jose filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Jose Rodriguez: “He came here and said to me, ‘Oh, I definitely see damage,’ but then when you read the documentation he says there’s no damage at all.”

The state official wrote, “No evidence of herbicide damage was visible on either property fence,” amazed Jose.

Jose Rodriguez: “You lose all hope and belief in the system because they don’t cooperate with the little guy.”

The trees farther from the fence line are fine, but Jose says lost fruit from those near his neighbor’s property netted him about $6,000. Money he could have used.

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Jose Rodriguez: “So I’m literally screwed. I lost everything and I have no alternative to have extra income or to enjoy my fruit.”

Well, Howard, if someone who sprays is accused of damaging your crops or your garden, are they responsible?

Howard Finkelstein, legal expert at 7News: “Yes, they are responsible, but the state has found no harm. Even if they did, it’s a long way to getting compensation because the state Department of Agriculture can’t force them to compensate you, and in a case like this, where the damage was about $6,000, you would have to have your own expert and a hired attorney, and it’s just not worth it.”

The people involved in the spraying didn’t answer our calls.

We contacted the State Department of Agriculture regarding Jose’s complaint about his crop damage.

A spokesman wrote: “The department has completed its investigation, which has indicated no herbicide damage or violations.”

From the “believe it or not” category, he says a few months after Jose’s complaint that his neighbor had sprayed his field again.

Jose Rodriguez: “I’m out there taking pictures and they come up here and start harassing and insulting me.”

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Jose said he did not notify the state, assuming it would be a waste of time.

Jose Rodriguez: “These are coming back a bit; they might make it.”

Instead, he focuses on his trees—the ones that will make it and the ones that won’t.

Jose Rodriguez: “I have some down below that are even more sensitive. They’re not coming back.”

Ouch. Losing the trees, which are not only your hobby but also a source of income, is a double whammy. Good luck for the future, Jose.

A problem poisoning your life? Don’t see a solution blooming soon? Plant the headache on us and see if we can make it bear fruit.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: [email protected]
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at [email protected]
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