In Iowa, two proposed laws would have provided support to farmers facing crop damage from drifting herbicides, and improved reporting and regulations around drift. While the laws were introduced this session, they will not be moving forward but the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU), PAN and other coalition partners have put the drift issue front and center on the legislative agenda in Des Moines.
A statewide, farmer-led coalition supporting these bills are asking for things like improved liability insurance and more readily available information about pesticide use and drift incidents. These are important pieces of legislation for small farmers growing healthy, local food for Iowa communities.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa Agribusiness Association opposed the liability bills (House Bill 289 and Senate Bill 1190), testifying that commercial applicators wouldn’t be able to qualify for or afford these levels of insurance. IFU members testified in favor of the bill, making the case that specialty crop farmers cannot remain viable in Iowa without assurance that applicators will be able to cover common crop losses.
The second set of bills (House Bill 398 and Senate Bill 1221) focuses on speeding up the process of laboratory testing to document crop damage from pesticide drift, and improving public access to data on pesticide use and drift incidents. The law would include a one-time appropriation of $325,000, with future expenses paid by fines issued to commercial applicators found to have misused pesticides.
The coalition will continue to work on issues surrounding pesticide drift in the coming months, raising awareness among policymakers and generating more broad-based support across the state in preparation for reintroduction of the bills in the next legislative session.