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Dicamba: Where We’re At & Where We Go From Here

Dicamba. It’s been on the lips of farmers, scientists and consumers alike this year – and for good reason. Complaints of damage due to drift have piled up across the Midwest; the Illinois Department of Agriculture alone received hundreds of reports.

But the dicamba issues that hit the farm belt this summer weren’t at all surprising to Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) leaders and staff.

“We knew this could be a topic of discussion throughout the year,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., president, IFB. “We’ve heard from farmers on both sides of this issue – those who want the technology and use it, and those who have been impacted as well. As the planting season progressed, we had members who alerted us they had challenges or issues, or saw affects.”

“We heard from our grassroots farmer members,” said Tamara Nelsen, senior director of commodities, IFB. “They said, ‘You know, we think there’s going to be some issues with this technology. We think folks really need to be trained, they need to keep communicating. Farmers need to talk to other farmers, neighbors need to talk to neighbors; we need to make sure everyone has a good understanding of what’s required because the application requirements are quite strict.’”

Under the direction of Strength With Advisory team members, IFB staff put together communications plans and strategies to help direct stewardship of the herbicide and keep members in the know.

“We developed a website and communication materials and had all kinds of articles and radio interviews,” Nelsen said. “We had multiple meetings with other organizations and we intend to do the same throughout the winter.”

Moving into the 2018 growing season, IFB plans to continue working with farmers and other agricultural organizations to increase stewardship and training, especially now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has handed down additional regulations regarding the use of dicamba.

“Two big parts of the new label require more extensive training and more extensive record keeping,” said Mark Gebhards, executive director, Governmental Affairs and Commodities, IFB. “So we’re looking at trying to….make sure our membership has the access to the educations so, at the end of the day, we have the stewardship in place.”

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