Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently responded to farmers’ concerns over the timeliness of reporting pesticide drift cases to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
During a recent virtual forum hosted by the Iowa Farmers Union, Secretary Naig was asked if improvements could be made to the reporting process of pesticide drift. Currently, farmers claiming an accident, incident, or loss due to a person’s use of pesticide must file an “Incident Report” with the Department’s Pesticide Bureau by calling 515-281-8591 or by emailing the information to pesticides@IowaAgriculture.gov. IFU members asked if online reporting could be possible in the future due to the challenges of finding the time to arrange a call with IDALS.
Secretary Naig said he’s well aware of the concerns, but that the department has to make sure it stays in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines and rules for the investigative process.
“The idea of online reporting has been a challenge for us,” Naig said. “It’s not as easy as just having an online reporting portal because the investigation process begins when we connect on the phone and we are able to begin with an interview of what’s happened on the ground. Not to minimize it, because I completely recognize that calling during business hours can very much be a challenge.”
Naig said IDALS is hoping to improve the timeliness issue to make it easier for farmers to call in their reports.
“We’re talking with our team about how we can at least address that issue,” he said. “That we can at least make the process of picking up the phone and connecting with somebody easier and more flexible for folks. I’m not ruling out that we can do something else online, it’s just that we’re trying to work through that and preserve the integrity of our program. If you submit something online and the next step is that we still have to talk on the phone, we’ve only delayed further that issue of timeliness.”
Pesticide drift reports must be filed within 60 days after the alleged date that damages occurred. If a growing crop is alleged to have been damaged, the report must be filed before 25% of the crop is harvested.