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TDA proposes additional restrictions for herbicide use

By Sarah Geyer 1/1/2018


Tennessee producers raising soybeans, like the field above, and cotton for the 2018 growing season may have state-specific requirements when using new formulation products. If approved, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Special Local Needs label proposal will clarify applicator training and application time limits.
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Just two months after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new restrictions for dicamba use in 2018, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) announced Dec. 11 it will seek approval from the EPA for a Special Local Needs [24(c)] label.

This proposal will further restrict the use of new formulation products, including BASF’s Engenia, Monsanto’s XtendiMax, and Dupont’s FeXanapan, in commercial production of cotton and soybeans in Tennessee.

Upon approval, the 24(c) will require:

• Certified applicators to complete mandatory dicamba-specific training provided by UT Extension or an approved product manufacturer;

• Application only between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in the respective time zone of location; and

• A hooded sprayer for any application from July 15 until Oct. 1.

The first two recommendations from the state expand the restrictions released by the EPA on Oct. 13, while the third is an additional preventative measure.

As one of its label changes for 2018, the EPA now classifies these products as restricted-use pesticides (RUP), which requires specially trained and certified applicators. This RUP certification must be presented during purchase. The EPA also mentions dicamba-specific training for certified applicators. The state’s proposal clarifies this requirement, stipulating the training in Tennessee must be provided either by UT Extension or an approved manufacturer.

All applicators, whether private or commercial, must complete both the RUP and dicamba-specific training requirements before the 2018 spraying season. With an estimated 5,500 applicators needing training in Tennessee, the TDA is working with UT and herbicide manufacturers to offer training opportunities online, at Extension offices, and during regional grain conferences.

This year’s grain events are scheduled for Jan. 18 in Knoxville, Jan. 25 in Manchester, and Feb. 1 in Dyersburg. More training information will be available by Jan. 15.

The second recommendation in the proposal clarifies the EPA’s requirement of “reducing the times during the day when applications can occur” with a specific period of time during the day.

State regulatory officials say these additional preventative measures, Along with the hooded sprayer requirement are needed, citing 47 suspected dicamba-related complaints in 2016 and 132 complaints between July 11 and Oct. 1, 2017.

“For the past six months, we’ve been preparing for the 2018 crop year — by creating a Dicamba Working Group to make recommendations to the department, investigating farmer-to-farmer complaints, evaluating the 2018 EPA label changes, considering actions of other states, monitoring the 2017 crop yields, and listening to key industry partners,” says Keith Harrison, assistant commissioner of TDA. “We believe our plans for 2018 are sound, as well as reasonable, but we need all farmers, agribusinesses, and manufacturers to work closely with the department and UT Extension if we are to be successful. It’s going to take a team approach if these efforts are to be effective.”

Other EPA label changes for 2018 include:

• Requiring farmers to maintain specific records regarding the use of these products to improve compliance with label restrictions;

• Limiting applications to when maximum wind speeds are below 10 mph (from 15 mph) to reduce potential spray drift;

• Including tank clean-out language to prevent cross contamination; and

• Enhancing susceptible crop language and record keeping with sensitive crop registries to increase awareness of risk to especially sensitive crops nearby.

In accordance with EPA’s new label restrictions, TDA will monitor use and conduct spot checks to ensure applicator’s compliance with label requirements, training, and record keeping. If an applicator is found in violation, penalties will be assessed and may include fines up to $1,500 per acre and/or revocation of the license to apply restricted use pesticides.

“Pesticides are vital tools in growing a safe and abundant food supply,” says Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton. “When used responsibly and in accordance with all label requirements, dicamba products are critical to eliminating weeds that are resistant to all other herbicides. We understand the importance of protecting this technology, while safeguarding the best interests of agriculture and the environment in Tennessee.”

Based on EPA requirements, TDA is also working with UT Extension to develop a registry process to assist farmers who plan to use dicamba to identify specialty crop producers in their immediate area.

The working group was created in late 2017 to serve as an advisory committee for the state’s ag department in formulating a strategy regarding dicamba, says Harrison. The 14-member group of farmers and individuals representing statewide agricultural organizations met with industry leaders from manufacturing, local ag businesses, UT, and regulatory agencies before developing its recommendations to the department. TFC’s General Counsel David Moss and Joey Caldwell, manager of Tipton Farmers Cooperative, were among the group’s presenters.

“It’s important to note how active farmers, ag organizations with statewide impact, UT, and agribusiness have been in helping the department develop this strategy for 2018,” adds Harrison. “We have listened a lot and put much thought into this process. We believe the strategy is right for our industry.”

For more information, visit TDA’s dicamba resources webpage at

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