Iowa Updates: July 2020 | Pesticide Action Network
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Iowa Updates: July 2020

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As Iowa is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN and partners' work in Iowa and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you'd like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.

State updates

Protect our pollinators — report drift: As we move toward the end of July, Iowa enters high season for insecticide and fungicide application on corn and soybean fields. The drone of spray planes and the high-pitched whine of highboy spraying rigs will become commonplace, and the heavy late-July air will be tinged with the sickly-sweet smell of airborne particles released into our environment by imprecise application methods.

Our reliance on chemical-intensive agriculture takes its toll each and every season on our pollinators and wildlife in general. More than half of our native bees are in decline. Throughout Iowa, our bumblebee populations, once plentiful, are disappearing. Even individuals working to provide a pollinator paradise are finding that there are fewer customers for attractive habitats.

One simple way that you can help is by reporting pesticide drift incidents. If you see a mist or smell chemicals outside of a target field, you should contact the Pesticide Bureau in Iowa. Carefully take note of the time, date and location. Be calm and stick to the facts. Our reports will provide evidence that there is a problem that must be addressed. 

Dicamba damage high in Iowa: Despite the June 3 court decision to vacate the registration of dicamba herbicides for over-the top-applications on soybeans, 2020 has seen significant damage to non-target soybean fields. Weather and field conditions this year have proved perfect for volatilization and drift from both soybean and corn fields.

Dicamba continues to leave destruction in its wake and it simply doesn’t stay on the target field. It is time for dicamba to be removed from use entirely, so farmers have the freedom to grow a wider range of crops and crop varieties without fear from damage by this herbicide.

Request your absentee ballot: Iowans can now request an absentee ballot for the November general election. We encourage you to participate in the election process. Request your absentee ballot today!

Nationwide updates

Over 33,000 signatures opposed to GE corn: PAN, Friends of the Earth and the National Family Farm Coalition worked to collect over 33,000 signatures in opposition to a new GE seed that would produce corn resistant to five different herbicides. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to take a stand with us. This product will only perpetuate a failing agricultural system that is in desperate need of change. The USDA will now take the comments received and produce a report summarizing their risk assessment. Once this report is released, there will be a second round of public comment. PAN intends to be there to oppose this product once again. We will keep you posted for opportunities to take action.

International updates

Several international news stories validate our hopes that actions can be taken to move away from reliance on chemical-intensive agriculture.

The Mexican government has announced plans to phase out and ultimately ban the use of glyphosate-based herbicides. The national Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources cited “scientific evidence of glyphosate toxicity, demonstrating the impacts on human health and the environment” as they unveiled a plan that will gradually reduce use until a total ban is achieved in 2024. In addition to this planned ban, there is movement to identify and promote ecological alternatives to glyphosate for weed management.

Meanwhile, India is drafting new rules that will restrict glyphosate application throughout the country. At present, glyphosate sees heavy use in much of India. These rules would limit use to a small number of certified applicators, effectively reducing actual use of the herbicide. These rules follow the lead of four agriculturally important states in India that have banned the use of glyphosate entirely in response to health concerns. This move is in line with a prior proposal to ban the manufacture, sale and import of 27 other pesticides, including atrazine, a chemical that still sees extensive use in Iowa agriculture.

Upcoming Events

The Liberty Prairie Foundation will host two virtual events featuring pollinators and pollinator habitat. Prairie Strips Benefit Pollinators and Farmers on July 23 from 11:00am-12:30pm and Farmers Working with Insects a week later, July 30.

The Practical Farmers of Iowa have a full schedule of virtual field days in the coming months. The first of a three part series on Cover Crops on a Vegetable and Poultry Farm is at 12:30pm on July 20. Producción Avícola en un Sistema Perenne (primarily in Spanish) will be held July 23 starting at 12:15pm. And, the Rotational Pasture Series will focus on laying hens July 20 at 2:00pm.

The Iowa Farmers Union is hosting part two of a Discussion with Art Cullen on July 23 at 12:30PM and a Question and Answer Session with Senator Charles Grassley at 12:30pm on July 27.

The Soil and Water Conservation Society will be holding their annual conference as a virtual event from July 27 to July 29.

Please take the time to view each of these organizations’ calendars for the numerous opportunities to participate and learn more.

Take action

As we approach peak pesticide spray season, there’s no doubt that these chemicals are putting pollinators at risk. That’s exactly why we do the work we do!

Thanks to a generous group of farmers and beekeepers, the first $900 in gifts were doubled. Though we have already met the $900 match, you can help us go above and beyond our goal by donating today!

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