Weed-killer sabotage claimed in B.C. blueberry farm lawsuit

The owners of a Langley farm are suing over the death of their crops

A lawsuit involving Langley blueberry farmers alleges that just before a foreclosure sale the fields were sabotaged with weed killer.

The lawsuit saw farmers Malkiat Singh Baring and Satwant Kaur Baring sue Farm Credit Canada, a realtor, and the previous owners of a 60-acre Langley blueberry farm the Barings bought in July of 2017.

The Barings bought the farm for $5.5 million just after Farm Credit Canada (FCC) had foreclosed on the property because the previous owners had failed to make mortgage payments.

FCC put the property up for sale in the spring of 2017, and the Barings saw it for the first time on May 29, 2017, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision by Justice Warren Milman.

“They were sufficiently impressed by what they saw that on the following day, May 30, 2017, they presented FCC with an offer to purchase the property,” Milman wrote.

The Barings were in a hurry to close the deal on the land because it was blueberry season. They expected to “reap the benefit” of the 2017 harvest, which they believed would mean revenue of about $750,000 from a crop already on the blueberry bushes.

Their contract stipulated the land was to be sold “as is” on the date of the completion of the sale.

The Barings were hoping to take possession by July 7, but the previous owners launched an appeal of the sale. Although the appeal was dismissed, this caused a 10-day delay, and the Barings took possession on July 17.

Although they had a right to inspect the property during the time between signing the contracts and the closing of the land sale, the Barings didn’t go onto the farm, claiming the previous owners had threatened them.

“As a result, I did not feel it was safe or a good idea to go onto the blueberry farm,” Satwant Baring said.

On July 13, the Barings did drive by the property, and claimed they saw strange activity.

They allegedly saw two men applying spray to the blueberry bushes, which they thought was unusual given the time of day and of the season.

After taking over the land, they noticed “many of the blueberry bushes were turning brown and not looking healthy,” Satwant Baring said in an affidavit.

“We investigated the health of the crop and determined that someone had recently applied herbicides, 2,4-D and glyphosate, commonly known as “Round-Up” to the blueberry bushes,” Satwant said. “These are very powerful weed killers and in our experience are never applied directly to a blueberry bush, as they are intended to, and can, kill the plant.”

The previous owners have denied causing any damage to the crops. None of the claims against them have been tested in court.

According to the Barings, the 2017 crop was destroyed, and many bushes were killed and had to be replaced by new plants that will not mature and yield the same amount of berries for years.

The lawsuit against the previous owners is scheduled to go to trial in October, but in the meantime, Milman has ruled that Farm Credit Canada is not at fault.

In a judgment in September, Milman ruled that there was no basis for the Barings to make a claim against FCC based on the wording of their contract.

FCC was awarded court costs and the claim was dismissed.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Babine Nation in Woyenne sees two positive Covid cases

Chief Gordon Alec gives the community an update

Single vehicle rollover on Highway 16 claims life of young woman, seriously injures another

The single vehicle incident occurred at Highway 16 and Hillcrest Way

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Directional traffic change coming to one-way street beside McLeod Elementary

This change will be in effect starting Monday, Oct. 5.

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

VIDEO: Smithers friendship centre launches canoe to mark Orange Shirt Day

Residential School survivor feels honoured by events held to recognize hardships endured

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Long-term care study credits fewer COVID deaths in B.C. than Ont. to funding, policy

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

$1.4 billion construction on top of staff raises, single-site work

Most Read