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Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation August 2017 Issue
InAgLaw Hdr

Dicamba Drift: Need to Know

Amy Burbrink Legal Intern 2017
Amy Burbrink
INFB Legal Intern

Increased pesticide resistance has led to an acute need for farmers to diversify modes of action. Dicamba herbicide has been on the market for decades, but for some years its use had decreased due to the surge of glyphosate-tolerant crops. However, as glyphosate efficacy has decreased, farmers have returned to using dicamba, a herbicide long known by applicators to be volatile, prone to drift and off-target movement. The latest dicamba herbicides have claimed to be low-volatility or drift-resistant but even new dicamba products have been met with numerous reports of off-target crop damage. As of July 26, the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) has received 184 drift complaints, 78 of which are alleged to involve a dicamba herbicide.

OISC will investigate drift complaints at no cost to the complainant or to the alleged violator. The investigation seeks to determine whether pesticides were used according to proper label directions. As the OISC points out on its website, “The label is the law.” If a violation is detected then the violator may receive a warning or citation; a civil penalty; or a license, permit, or registration revocation, suspension, or modification. Criminal prosecution and referral to the U.S. EPA are also possible in some circumstances.

The bottom line is that OISC does not determine damages and cannot force the violator to compensate the complainant for damages. For this reason, complainants should take photographs and collect other evidence related to the incident for use in private negotiations or civil actions.

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