As Dicamba Injury Complaints Rise, States’ Communication With EPA Declines

DTN writer Emily Unglesbee reported earlier this week that, “Once again, most major soybean states are dealing with a deluge of dicamba injury allegations this summer, with two states already reporting a record level of complaints.

But, unlike last year, the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs is not getting routine updates from state regulators on these injury reports. Last year, representatives from the federal agency participated in weekly conference calls with state pesticide regulators on dicamba injury complaints and investigative findings throughout the summer and fall. EPA officials also visited multiple states to tour dicamba injury and hold public forums on the topic.

“This year, this regular communication and canvassing has dried up.”

The DTN article noted that, “‘We haven’t been asked to provide any information to U.S. EPA headquarters,’ said Doug Owens, chief of the Bureau of Environmental Programs at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which has fielded more than 450 alleged dicamba injury reports, up nearly 40% from last year and a record for the state. ‘I know last year, we reported to them every week with weekly conference calls. We’re not participating in that this year, and no information has been requested.'”

Ms. Unglesbee indicated that, “In Illinois, dicamba injury complaints soared later than usual in the season, from mid-July into August.

“Earlier this summer, the Illinois Department of Agriculture extended the state’s June 30-cutoff date for dicamba applications to July 15 to help growers control weeds in late, June-planted soybean fields. As a result, applicators were spraying dicamba later than normal, during the hottest, most humid days of the summer, Owens noted.

“‘Of the 652 pesticide misuse complaints we’ve received, 456 are alleged dicamba, and we’ve gotten three-quarters of those within the last three to four weeks,‘ Owens said. ‘I think most of the dicamba went on between July 1 and July 15 — and so that’s about two to three weeks out when people started seeing the damage and then making the decision to report it.'”

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