There will be new restrictions on the weed killer dicamba for the 2018 growing season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
The broadly defined restrictions, similar to what the state of Missouri imposed over the summer, were announced Friday in a news release. The EPA says it reached an agreement with agriculture giants Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on ways to tamp down on dicamba drift, which has been blamed for destroying or damaging millions of acres of crops in the United States.
Monsanto, BASF and DuPont will change their labels to show dicamba is for “restricted use” and that it should only be applied to crops when winds are below 10 mph. The EPA also will require farmers to keep track of their use of the herbicide.
EPA Administration Scott Pruitt says in the news release that the restrictions are “the result of intensive, collaborative efforts” between state universities, state agriculture departments and the manufacturers.
As of September, there were 2,200 official dicamba-related investigations in the U.S., according to Kevin Bradley, a weed specialist at the University of Missouri. And the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story this week that looked at possible ties between dicamba drift and damage to oak trees.
Bradley says the EPA’s regulations weren’t a surprise.
“If EPA hadn’t done what it said it was going to do today, many state departments of ag would have taken those measures anyway,” he says.
Bradley also says that the new steps aren’t likely to have a strong impact.
“I don’t think there was anybody out there who was planning on using it that are not going to use it now because they have to take an online training or because they have to spray it when the wind is less than 10 miles per hour,” he says.