State agencies struggle to keep up with growing number of dicamba complaints


In 2016, the EPA approved the use of dicamba. Farmers can spray certain versions of the herbicide on top of soybean plants killing the weeds but leaving the crops intact, as long as those plants have been genetically engineered to handle it.

Because a majority of soybean plants have become genetically resistant to dicamba, many farmers love the new technology. However, it has caused issues in the farming community.

Oftentimes on hot days, dicamba can evaporate and drift to areas it was not intended to be sprayed, damaging other crops.

According to NPR, this has happened at a large-scale with crops being destroyed from Minnesota to Arkansas.

State agencies are the ones responsible for looking into pesticide drift and determining if any laws were violated but those agencies have struggled to keep up with complaints

In Illinois, pesticide drift complaints reached 700 in 2019 after only about 120 in years prior. In Indiana, the number jumped from 60 to 200.

“You know, I’ve used the phrase ‘dicamba fatigue,’ and it’s a very real thing,” said Leo Reed, from the Office of the Indiana State Chemist.

In 2019, the EPA added new restrictions on how and where dicamba can be used.

However, Reed said the new regulations did not help a ton as the total number of complaints rose in many states.

In Missouri, many farmers stopped making formal complaints altogether because they felt it was no longer worth their time.

Many farmers, however, still see the benefits of dicamba.

In a statement Bayer, a maker of dicamba herbicide and dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton seeds, told NPR that it had 95 percent satisfaction rate among farmers who used their products.