The bumper sticker on Elmer Laird’s car sums up the situation. It reads: 2,4-D IS NOT FOR ME. Unlike those who adopt lyrical slogans for perhaps spurious or unconscionable reasons, you can be sure that in Laird’s case this is no whim. For almost a year Laird, 55, who farms near Davidson, Saskatchewan, has been embroiled in a feud with the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation over his choice not to use any chemicals in his operation. Last fall he filed a claim after his 380acre crop of spring wheat and oats was severely damaged by drought which brought on weeds. Two crop-insurance officials appraised the situation, ruled he could have grown 10 bushels an acre more had he used chemicals to control weeds and levied a 10-bushel-an-acre deduction, which effectively wiped out a claim of $7,359.
Laird stopped using chemicals in 1969 when he learned of the rather frightening effects insecticides could have, for instance, on wildlife. He switched to such methods as tillage, late and heavy seeding and growing clover with his wheat to control weed growth.
After several months of negotiations the penalty was reduced to five bushels an acre, which meant Laird would receive $2,017. He remains unsatisfied.
Though he has withdrawn from the insurance program, Laird still holds out hope. “What we need is an insurance program for organic farmers like myself. Time is running out. Man has decided to try and control nature, rather than work with it, and man is losing.”
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