Dicamba Complaints Have Long-Tailed Implications

Dicamba Complaints Have Long-Tailed Implications ( Lindsey Benne )

Farmers have been using dicamba over-the-top of soybeans and cotton since 2017. The herbicide is approved through 2020, and this year and next year will weigh heavily on the herbicide’s future.

“The first year with dicamba, 2017, we had 246 dicamba-related complaints,” says Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. “In 2018 we had 330 and in 2019 we’ve had 728 as of now. The big difference now is that we are using it on far more acres and later in the season; very rarely was it used in June and July.”

Illinois is showing the most dramatic increase in complaints year over year. Manufacturers also track complaints. Bayer and BASF both stated they've received fewer complaints year over year regarding dicamba. Bayer had 463 and BASF received 60.

Outcomes of Damage Claims

After filing a claim, it can be up to eight months before inspectors confirm what caused the movement.

“They have to be very certain of their findings because if an applicator is to blame, they issue a warning letter, which could include a monetary penalty of $750 up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the damage," Payne says.

When applicators get too many letters charging them with off-target movement their license to apply dicamba can be revoked. Inspectors consider date of applications, weather conditions and many additional details to determine the culprit of off-target movement.

Note, fees incurred by applicators from the state don’t go to drift victims, it goes to the state. If you have monetary damages you want covered by the applicator at fault, you have to take the battle to court or work out a recovery payment. 

Illinois Restricts Applications

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will provide additional label restrictions for over-the-top dicamba in 2020, in addition to the federal EPA label. These will go into effect upon approval from EPA of this 24(c) registration request.

Additional provisions include:

  • No application is permitted if the temperature or forecast is over 85°F.
  • No applications permitted after June 20, 2020.
  • Keep label-specified downwind buffer on any downfield edge of any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site.