Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says discussion in the next legislative session ought to include the possibility of stronger penalties, including civil penalties, for crop dusters who accidentally spray workers in the field or organic crops. Speaking in Atlantic Wednesday, Northey said it’s important for those who fly and apply chemicals to have sufficient training and licensing, so that more mistakes don’t happen.
Northey says, "We don’t have any mandatory program where they have to look to see where the organic fields are or where the vineyards are. We’ll talk about some of that this next year, what makes sense. We don’t need to overburden people with regulations but they want to know where that stuff is, they want to know what their risk is in flying, whether they even want to do it, where the wind’s out of and whether it really matters or not."
Last month, a crop dusting pilot working for an Arkansas Company accidentally sprayed three-dozen detasselers in Marshall County. Northey says crop dusters need to know what surrounds the fields they’re spraying.
He says, "If it’s another corn field, it’s not that big a deal. If it’s an organic field, that loses its organic certification for three years or if it’s a vineyard that’s cost thousands of dollars an acre to plant, then they wanna’ be really careful."
An administrative law judge recently ordered Kin Company Ag Aviation, of Beech Grove, Arkansas, to stop flying in Iowa following the July incident. The judge revoked the company’s pesticide applicator license, thereby upholding an earlier decision made by state ag officials. The company has 30-days to appeal.