The fault is with Monsanto’s product and not the farmers, says State Rep. Bill Sanderson, who is also owner of a winery damaged by dicamba drift
After Arkansas and Missouri place temporary bans on dicamba, now Tennessee is investigating what to do about crop damage caused by the herbicide.
Tennessee Dept of Ag to investigate 69 possible dicamba complaints in West TN
State Gazette, July 12, 2017
* Missouri and Arkansas place 120-day bans on use of dicamba
Farmers located in areas of Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel and West Tennessee are currently looking for ways to protect their crops from the Monsanto herbicide dicamba, which is commonly used to eliminate dandelions, chickweeds, clover, ivy and broadleaf weeds in both residential and agricultural areas of development.
While the EPA reports [Reregistration Eligibility Decision Document for Dicamba and Associated Salts] indicate dicamba to be safe for humans when used accordingly, the chemical agent -- capable of drifting from the fields where it was sprayed -- has played catalyst to hundreds of complaints from farmers stating the product has traveled to their property from nearby fields, in turn causing severe damage to their crops and fruit orchards.
Both Arkansas and Missouri departments of agriculture have placed 120-day temporary bans on the product.
As of July 7, the Arkansas Dept. of Agriculture had received 596 complaints regarding the misuse of dicamba from residents across 23 counties bordering its eastern line.
Effective Aug. 1, those in Arkansas caught using the product despite the ban will be fined $25,000.
Since Jan. 1, the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture has reported a total of 130 pesticide drift complaints related to the product dicamba. Collectively, complainants have stated the product caused damage to hundreds of thousands of acres of crops.
Reaching out the Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture Tuesday morning, Public Affairs Officer Heather Orne confirmed a total of 69 possible dicamba pesticide complaints.
Specific to 11 counties in West Tennessee, Orne says that each of the complaints will be investigated by the department accordingly. Orne says Tennessee is not considering a ban on the product at this time.
“The department is currently looking into possible additional measures, however, those are not yet approved so we are unable to discuss them at this time,” commented Orne.
Along with those filing complaints to the Dept. of Agriculture in Tennessee, State Rep. Bill Sanderson, who is also owner of White Squirrel Winery in Kenton, claims dicamba to be the cause of damage across roughly 6-acres of his vineyard. Sanderson said the chemical has taken a substantial toll on his grapevines, and worries that any additional sprays may result in the harm of the actual fruit.
“It’s not really this year’s harvest that concerns me, but what about next year?” questioned Sanderson, whose winery is surrounded on two sides by soybean and cotton fields both sprayed with dicamba.
Making note of the chemical’s range of travel, Sanderson pointed out dicamba damage sustained to his vineyard in areas located hundreds of feet from the nearest dicamba field.
“It mutates the leaves,” said Sanderson. “They become cupped and shrivel. They are all very dried out. It’s a good thing the guy next to me planted dicamba beans. He didn’t put it on his beans, but they are made to be resistant to its effects so the spray won’t kill his crops when it drifts on them.”
Sanderson says he feels the fault is with Monsanto’s product and not the farmers.
“The farmers spray their fields with it and it does its job. The problem is that when they spray the dicamba it stays on the leaves, then when the heat comes it vaporizes. As a vapor, it drifts to other people’s land, settles and causes damage,” said Sanderson. “The product is being used right by farmers, it is just faulty.”
TDEC [Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation] Communications Director Eric Ward told State Gazette that management of Reelfoot Lake State Park has also reported hundreds of trees damaged in the area. As seen in other cases, dicamba has not yet been identified as the cause.
Dicamba products include but are not limited to:
• FeXApan Herbicide plus VaporGrip Technology, EPA registration number 352-913
• Engenia Herbicide, EPA registration number 7969-345
• XTENDIMAX with VaporGrip Technology, EPA registration number 524-617
Property owners should report crop damages believed to be caused by dicamba to 800.628.2631.
To view the RED Decision Documents for Dicamba, visit: https://archive.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/web/pdf/dicamba_red.pdf