2017 Soybean Harvest

2017 Soybean Harvest

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NS Farm Practice Board decision on overspray upheld

Justice Scanlan of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia heard an appeal of a decision of the Farm Practices Board (FPB) involving the following facts:
The matter arose as a result of two instances where [JW] sprayed a field directly across the road from the [N] property with what I understand to have been a herbicide. The Appellants argue this was done at a time when the wind speed and direction caused an overspray to spread onto their property, allegedly damaging raspberry canes and allegedly causing personal injury to both Mrs. [N] and to her horses. In addition, the Appellants complain about the impact of ditch excavation, as carried out by Mr. [W], and as to the placement of bales of hay or straw in the ditch, the escape of organic materials onto their property together with the impact or the potential impact that might have had on their well water. I emphasize repeatedly the word “allegedly.” The Appellants also allege, as I noted, that the herbicide impacted the health of their horses, specifically mares in foal. They say the mares were impacted and perhaps may have aborted as a result of the overspray. They allege, as I understand it, although I'm not reviewing in any great detail the allegations in the statement of claim, that it was not just the existing pregnancies that were impacted but the fertility of the mares on a go forward basis.

The issue that had been before the FPB was whether or not the farmer in this case complied with normal farm practices, in which case the practice would be protected from certain civil actions for damages or injunctive relief.  However, the farm protection legislation does not address "the potential impact of chemical use or misuse, including the impact on neighbouring properties."

In the end, Justice Scanlan determined that the FPB decision was reasonable, but pointed out its limitations - it did not deal with all of the allegations made by the complainants, including allegations about overspray.  Those other allegations would still have to be dealt with, if at all, in the civil action that the complainants had also commenced against the farmer in this case.  That action had been stayed pending the outcome of the FPB proceeding.

Read the decision at: Nauss v. Nova Scotia (Farm Practice Board).