Pesticides

CHAFER MACHINERY / Creative Commons

Midwest states including Missouri, Iowa and Illinois are updating the way they teach farmers to safely use pesticides, with the goals of making it easier for them to get the training and to keep the process under state control.

In Missouri, such training usually happened through in-person classes that included watching videos so old they are on VHS tapes. 

Courtesy of Meyer Agri-Air

In late July 2019, a group of migrant farmworkers from south Texas was working in a cornfield in DeWitt County, Ill., when suddenly a crop duster flew overhead, spraying them with pesticides. Panicked, the crew, which included teenagers and a pregnant woman, ran off the field with clothes doused in pesticides. Their eyes and throats burned and some had trouble breathing.

It happened again two weeks later, this time twice within 30 minutes.

CAPE GIRARDEAU — A federal jury in the first dicamba-related lawsuit to go to trial determined Saturday that Monsanto and BASF should pay $250 million in punitive damages.

That’s more than the $200 million suggested by lawyers working for the plaintiff, Bader Farms. 

Missouri’s largest peach producer, owned by Bill and Denise Bader, sued the ag giants for causing extensive dicamba damage to its orchards.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On top of trade disputes, a wet spring and late planting, many soybean farmers face yet another hurdle: the thistle caterpillar.

Although it becomes the painted lady butterfly, which can bring a fluttering swath of color to backyards and gardens, this caterpillar can be a real pest in soybean fields.

Use Of Controversial Weed Killer Glyphosate Skyrockets On Midwest Fields

May 27, 2019
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.

Nationwide, the use of glyphosate on crops increased from 13.9 million pounds in 1992 to 287 million pounds in 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey.

By The Numbers: Glyphosate Use In The Midwest For Corn, Soybeans

May 27, 2019
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Glyphosate is the most-used pesticide on U.S. crops, an estimated 287 million pounds in 2016, according to an analysis by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Midwest saw 65 percent of the nation’s total agriculture glyphosate use on crops, a 12-state territory that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Courtesy of Meyer Agri-Air

On July 28, 2017, a central Iowa emergency dispatcher received a 911 call from a man in a corn field.

“I had workers that were detasseling,” said the caller, referring to the job of manually pulling the tops off standing corn stalks. “Some may have gotten sprayed by a plane.”

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Andrew Joyce won’t be growing any tomatoes this summer. His three-acre produce farm in Malden, Missouri, will lie fallow. The cause: damage from the weed killer dicamba.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource file photo

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

Some States Establish Pesticide Buffer Zones, But None Where Much Is Sprayed: The Midwest

Jan 24, 2018
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Hundreds of rural schools in Midwest states nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds.

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