Platteville, CO – The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CAAA) issued a statement Friday on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Final Agency Order pertaining to actions taken against three CAAA member businesses by the Department, which were challenged by those businesses in state Administrative Court and ultimately dismissed by the Administrative Law Judge for lack of substance.
“While we remain disappointed that the state saw fit to pursue these unsubstantiated claims, which ranged from five to seven years old, we are pleased with the Final Agency Order released this week,” said Jessica Freeman, Executive Director for CAAA.
“CAAA members are all highly trained professional applicators who strive for perfect applications on every flight. Our member’s professionalism was well demonstrated by the evidence entered in each of these three unfortunate cases.”
The final order stems from three separate cases, dated May 2012, May 2014, and July 2014. In each the Department alleged that aerial applicators sprayed pesticide from an aircraft in an unsafe manner. The Office of Administrative Courts (OAC) held an evidentiary hearing between January 29 and February 1 2019, and issued its decision on February 19 2019, dismissing each of the three complaints, citing lack of evidence supporting the allegations, and substantial evidence that all three applicators used “appropriate care in planning and performing the pesticide application.”
The order, written and issued by Colorado Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Silverman, admits that the Department uses a broad interpretation of the phrase “use of a pesticide in an unsafe manner” which includes “applications in which the use of a pesticide results in situations where hazards identified on the pesticide label could have occurred,” but that even so, “ALJ Norwood found that the Department did not establish through a preponderance of the evidence that the respondents applied the pesticides outside of the target area” nor did they “establish that any respondent applied the pesticides contrary to the labeling directions or requirements or applied them in an unsafe…manner.” He added that the ALJ’s conclusions were “supported by substantial evidence,” and therefore “the administrative court properly concluded that the Department had not established a causal connection between the presence of pesticides and the actions of the three applicators involved…”
Freeman noted that the three applicators involved were forced to spend an inordinate amount of time and money defending against these spurious complaints. “CAAA and our members have will continue, as we always have, to work closely with the Department of Agriculture, and follow all policies and procedures. We understand why there is a complaint process, and fully support it; but we believe that abuse of that process undermines both the process itself and the safety of our pilots, customers, and the general public.”
The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CAAA) serves its membership in legislative concerns, education of pertinent issues, and promotion of technical programs to enhance the betterment of Agricultural Aviation and its related activities