PFAS disclosures from the Department of Defense cause fear and uncertainty for farmers

September 21, 2023

Read the full article by Ryan Nebeker (salon)

"In late 2021, farmers Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis heard that their farm had appeared on what would turn out to be a very consequential map. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection had plotted sites around the state where sewage sludge — potentially bearing toxic PFAS chemicals — had once been spread as fertilizer. Nordell and Davis faced a difficult decision: They could either ignore the potential problem and risk the health of their family and customers, or test for the chemicals and risk losing the farm if they were found. 

Between April 2022 and March 2023, more than 300 farmers across 17 states received similar news. This time, it was the Department of Defense letting them know that their land or water might be contaminated with PFAS — the possible result of activities on nearby airbases and military installations. It's a notice that thousands of farms have received since the DOD started releasing the information in 2021, but much like Nordell and Davis in Maine, the farmers near affected DOD sites have received no further government help and have been left to decide for themselves whether or not to test their soils or crops."