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February 06, 2018 04:59 PM

Some States Impose More Restrictions On Weed Killer Dicamba

Our KELOLAND News investigation Dangerous Dicamba Drift has shown you the widespread damage reports across dozens of states following the release of a new formula for an old weed killer.

Some say it's a way for these major manufacturers to gain a monopoly on the market because farmers will be too afraid to plant anything other than their Dicamba-resistant soybeans.

But this is a lot more than a soybean issue.  Dicamba Drift can affect all kinds of growing things from gardens to fruit trees to beehives.

We're looking into how other states with millions of acres of reported Dicamba damage are responding and why some say South Dakota isn't going far enough.

"Everybody that farms knows this is a problem," agronomist Jeff Peterson said.

A problem because of all the complaints in dozens of states.  Farmers are reporting millions of acres of damage caused by this particular formula of Dicamba weed killer spreading to areas it wasn't supposed to go. 

"It isn't just Minnesota affected-- it's the whole Midwest; the south, the southeast--parts of U.S.  It's the scale and scope of it that's really unique," University of Minnesota Weed Scientist Jeff Gunsolus said. 

Gunsolus recommended his state impose its own cutoff date for Dicamba spraying to try to lessen the damage.

"There are a lot of things that have to be done and observed to apply this according to label and that's going to be a challenge in its own right because the wind blows in southwest Minnesota and South Dakota. That's going to be one of the challenges," Gunsolus said.

While the federal government has included new restrictions for the 2018 growing season, Minnesota isn't the only state to have even more rules on Dicamba’s use. North Dakota, Missouri and Tennessee have also imposed additional restrictions and Arkansas has banned its use in the 2018 growing season. 

"I want it to be managed correctly and I know how to do it and I want people to listen," Peterson said.

Peterson wants to see South Dakota enact even more restrictions like Minnesota and has taken up the issue with State Ag Secretary Mike Jaspers.

"I've tried to educate him as much as I could and he had decided to maintain what the federal label is. And he has to speak for himself. I don't know why," Peterson said.

Jaspers does speak for himself on the second part of our investigation into Dangerous Dicamba Drift. 

We ask him why South Dakota is sticking with the new EPA label and not imposing restrictions like Minnesota's or North Dakota's.  Hear his answers on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

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