Dicamba Complaints Persist in Hopes of Securing Tighter Regulations

In a recent article posted at The Des Moines Register Online, Molly Hunter reported that, “Normally, Story County soybean farmer Kevin Larson said he would resolve a dispute with a neighbor privately.

“Instead, he went to the Iowa Pesticide Bureau in 2017 when he suspected powerful herbicides drifting from a nearby farm damaged his crop.

“Other Iowa soybean farmers IowaWatch spoke with are doing that, too.”

The article noted that, “Increasingly, they are filing complaints with the state bureau about drifting herbicides, some with hopes of securing tighter regulations of powerful weed killers containing dicamba.

“‘That’s the only way to get them to listen to you,’ said Larson, who farms near Story City.

“The state and federal government have not implemented the temperature and date cutoffs for dicamba application that some farmers believe are necessary to reduce drift damage. Rather, state guidelines require applicators to follow the existing instructions on pesticide container labels, which are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Ms. Hunter stated that, “With the introduction of new dicamba-based herbicides in 2017, the bureau reported a 69.7 percent increase in complaints about the pesticide drifting from 2016 to 2017 and a 2 percent increase from 2017 to 2018.”

The article added that, “Iowa State University extension weed specialist Bob Hartzler said 90 percent of the 2017 drift complaints filed after June 15 of that year were about dicamba applications. The volatile nature of the dicamba plays a significant role in its destructive impact on soybeans.

“‘That’s what differentiates dicamba from other products. If you do a good job in paying attention to the environment and adjust your sprayer right, there’s minimal risk of problems, but with dicamba a person would do everything right … and still have problems,’ Hartzler said.”

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