Oregon farmers concerned about national herbicide destroying crops

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:39 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Growing concerns about a controversial herbicide that’s damaging crops around the country has some farmers in Oregon worried about managing their own crops.

John Iverson, a third-generation farmer in Woodburn, has used the herbicide Dicamba for several years to keep his grass seed crops free of weeds. Iverson has been closely following the national debate about Dicamba, which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, was the subject of roughly 3,500 complaints during the 2021 growing season, and has been tied to more than a $1 million in damage to crops in 27 states.

“To hear about it in the Midwest and the amount of damage they’re having, it had us concerned that, in the grand scheme of things, our industry is a minor crop industry,” Iverson said. “Soybeans and corn kind of rule the chemical industry. And so if they’re going to pull it off soybeans, they might just pull it all together, which has us real nervous.”

Critics of the controversial herbicide say it is extremely volatile and drift-prone. Dicamba has been the subject of lawsuits against the EPA for failing to adequately regulate its use. Some are seeking an outright ban of the product.

“It’s possible there might be some limited instances where they’re ok, but for the most part, Dicamba is just so volatile and so drift-prone that it’s not a very safe technology,” said Lori Ann Burd, Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the organizations that sued the EPA.

Compared to the rest of the country, Oregon has seen relatively few complaints about Dicamba - only 41 over the last three years submitted to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

For now, the EPA has no plans for an outright ban on Dicamba use. The agency does review its regulations every year, and recently added more restrictions on the herbicide’s use.