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"Cash-strapped state agriculture agencies are buckling under an increased workload due to the hundreds of herbicide damage complaints filed in 2017 and scuttling other priorities to fully investigate claims of crop injury. More than 2,700 dicamba-related soybean injury complaints have been filed to date, according to the University of Missouri’s Integrated Pest Management program. The complaints are a big setback for companies—Monsanto Co., BASF SE, and DowDupont—that introduced new versions of the herbicide for the first time this year to help farmers combat stubborn weeds that no longer die when sprayed with traditional herbicides. Underfunded state pesticide regulatory agencies are also overwhelmed with the number of complaints they must process. David Scott, pesticide program administrator with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, doesn’t expect to wrap up his state’s 2017 investigations until well into 2018. Indiana has opened close to 130 investigations, a higher number than some states, but well below Arkansas’ nearly 1,000 investigations and Missouri’s 311...In an effort to curb the number of damage claims in 2018, the EPA has changed the label instructions for the herbicides. Training to use the products is now mandatory, and applicators can only use the pesticides during a specific time period each day. Several states have begun taking action. Arkansas is close to finalizing a rule that would ban dicamba spraying after Apr. 16, 2018, effectively prohibiting its use on soybean crops. Missouri and North Dakota have implemented their own restrictions, and Kansas may be the next state to act...Indiana has only processed about 25 of its complaints so far, Scott said, adding that he still hasn’t found any clues for how and why the pesticide moves away from its intended targets, making the investigations more challenging that usualIt’s unlikely that all applicators will comply with the new EPA rules on applying the pesticides, he added. “That would be a miracle,” Scott said, if all applicators followed the instructions."

Posted December 6th, 2017