Most people figured it wasn’t the end of the story when U.S. EPA extended the use of dicamba herbicide products on Xtend soybeans with new guidelines. Shop talk indicated Indiana might impose stricter guidelines.
Why? Because official drift and injury complaints filed with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist were slightly higher in 2018 than in 2017. Dave Scott, pesticide administrator with OISC, says it was another big year for total drift complaints.
Rule-makers looked at what worked in other states and consulted with researchers. They prepared a plan, which included a cutoff date for spraying dicamba on Xtend soybeans.
While this process unfolded, industry and farmers expressed concerns. They pushed for letting EPA’s guidelines work without further restrictions.
The groups compromised, and regulators agreed not to add extra state restrictions. Indiana will follow EPA’s guidelines for spraying dicamba on Xtend soybeans in 2019. However, OISC reserves the right to review the situation after the 2019 season and suggest stricter rules for 2020 if EPA’s changes don’t reduce drift issues.
We don’t know everything that went into this decision. From what we know, we should feel lucky to live in a state where people listen to reason and work with one another. At the same time, we’re also lucky to have regulators who weigh and balance risk and reward. We should listen to them moving forward.
Scott posted information about the state’s decision. It’s under a long list of frequently asked questions about dicamba. See the entire list at oisc.purdue.edu.
Here’s the explanation Scott crafted in response to whether Indiana would add restrictions to EPA’s rules about XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan herbicides.
“In spite of a considerable amount of work already conducted to develop state restrictions intended to minimize dicamba off-work target movement, no state-specific restrictions will be implemented by OISC in 2019. This state effort included a work group appointed by the Indiana Pesticide Review Board to evaluate the record number of dicamba off-target movement complaints in Indiana in both 2017 and 2018. The work group noted that [despite] extensive mandatory applicator training prior to the 2018 application season, dicamba complaint numbers actually increased in 2018. … The work group recommended that OISC consider imposing both a June 20, 2019, application cutoff date and specific quarter-mile to half-mile downwind setbacks when applying near sensitive crops and residential plants. … OISC and the work group agreed that these additional state restrictions might reduce dicamba complaint numbers by at least 50%. … However, subsequent consultation with Indiana agricultural leaders has caused OISC to conclude that postponing implementation of any state-specific restrictions may be [prudent] for 2019. Industry leaders suggested that the 2019 federal label revisions may reduce the incidence of off-target movement to acceptable levels, without additional state restrictions. They also asked OISC to consider economic impacts to soybean growers and that the overwhelming majority of the 2017 and 2018 complaints involved exposure to non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans rather than other dicamba-sensitive crops and plants. OISC agreed that as an alternative, establishing a clear negotiated measurement of success for 2019 would be preferable to setting an arbitrary improvement level of 50% dicamba complaint reduction. … State restrictions and protective measures above and beyond the EPA label may be necessary in 2020, based on the results of the 2019 dicamba application season.”
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