EPA Rules Could Destroy Family-Run Peach Orchard In Louisiana

Rules in place by the Environmental Protection Agency could mean the end of a Louisiana peach orchard that has been in the Mitcham family for 68 years.

According to Watchdog.org, regulations from the EPA are stifling the family's ability to make a living the same way it has for nearly seven decades.

"The federal government's banning of a chemical in 2005 known as methyl bromide, used to treat diseased peach trees, has really given him no choice, as most of his trees won't survive without it.

"Many of Mitcham's trees have already died.

"The EPA claims using this chemical threatens the earth's ozone layer.

"Mitcham told Watchdog the federal regulations have also forced him to downsize his business from 60 employees to 20.

"'Well, with more acreage to use we would be prospering,' [Owner Joe] Mitcham said. 'We had the potential to be a million dollar business, but definitely not now.'"

The EPA's rules have meant the peach orchard started by Mitcham's retiring father could be at risk shutting down, taking with it a history and tradition rich in its hometown of Ruston, La.

Ruston resident Laura Jones spoke to Watchdog.org about her memories growing up in the area and visiting the peach orchard the EPA could soon be responsible for putting out of business.

"'The reason more people aren't in arms over the farm closing is because every time it's been talked about before was because it seemed to be far away in the future, and not imminent,' Jones said.

"'It's such a symbol of our area, and it's such a part of our history and it's such a shame that it would go away. I don't know what that would mean for our Peach Festival.'"

That peach festival has an annual $5 million impact on the local economy, Watchdog.org reports.

The Daily Caller reported that even if EPA regulations were to change, it would likely be too late to save the Mitcham Peach Orchard.

"EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones did not give a comment, as many of the EPA's methyl bromide experts were out of the office. Experts are currently considering approving a safer alternative to methyl bromide. However, even if an alternative is approved, the process will take so long that the Mitchin farm will have long closed."
The EPA's regulations on the peach orchard in Louisiana are just the latest in a string of what people have called power grabs by the agency, with the most recent example being the Clean Water Act, according to The Inquisitr.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]