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.

Just Posted

New, feature-length documentary on missing woman Emma Fillipoff comes out next year

The film follows Fillipoff’s disappearance and the ongoing investigation

Victoria Police Department seeks provincial budget review for second year in a row

VicPD hopes to see four more staff positions after request was denied in the 2019 budget

Harbour authority to honour Victoria sailor Jeanne Socrates with naming ceremony

In September Socrates became the oldest person to sail around the world in a solo, unassisted trip

Escaped Metchosin inmate sentenced to additional year tacked on to 14-year sentence

Man escaped from William Head Institution arrested days later in Esquimalt

VIDEO: The sticky truth about winter moths and how Greater Victoria arborists fight them

Winter moths have ‘killed a lot of trees’ across the region, says Oak Bay arborist

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

EDITORIAL: It’s time to face the truth on drug use

The homeless don’t own the drug epidemic

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Most Read