November 7, 2018 - 2:57 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the approved use of the controversial weed killer dicamba for two more years, but critics say too little is being done to protect nearby crops.

New restrictions include fewer hours to spray and fewer people approved to do it. Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler says the new rules also require a 57-foot buffer around fields using dicamba.

The herbicide is used on fields where there are dicamba-resistant crops growing, but farmers who didn’t plant those seeds say dicamba drifted, injuring about a million acres of crops this year across the Midwest and South. Iowa State University weed scientist Bob Hartzler says the new rules won’t prevent damage to fields where farmers didn’t plant dicamba-resistant seeds.

The EPA insists the restrictions will help and that it needs the next two years to collect and monitor complaint data before making a longer-term decision. Hartzler says he’s talked to several farmers, including one who admits he made a critical error.

State officials have received dozens of complaints about herbicide drift this year. Arkansas and Missouri banned the sale and use of dicamba in 2017 following multiple complaints about crop damage due to drift.

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