The end of July 2017, the Ag industry was in a tailspin not knowing how much damage was caused by drift, and inversion as the sprayers were rolling to cover the soybean acres as fast as possible. As insurance companies scrambled to have adjusters to inspect fields and pull samples for testing, everyone held their breathe to see how the soybeans recovered. For many, the concern diminished as they harvested their soybeans, but others felt that their soybeans didn’t reach the maximum yield potential.
When it came time to settle claims, insurance adjusters were finding that many yields were higher then expected, and a large number of claims were not payable. “Roughly 75% of the claims didn’t have a payable claim”, said Don Heinrich, Assistant Vice President, Chubb Agribusiness Claims
The key takeaways from 2017 were: documentation of spraying records, making sure that you’re on label, and remembering that Dicamba drift damaged more then plants and yields. It damaged relationships with farmers, neighbors, and even for those in Ag business. Improves needed to be made by everyone in the Ag industry.
Fast forward to 2018, new label restrictions, and the states getting involved by limiting the time of day, and even how late in the season Dicamba can be sprayed. This has reduced post emergence spraying of Dicamba soybeans. The other change has been farmers playing defense by planting Dicamba Tolerate Soybeans. This allows the farmer to protect their soybeans from the potential drift or inversion of Dicamba, plus gives them the flexibility to chose whether to use Dicamba or not.
Comparing last year to this year, Regina Wixon at South Dakota Agricultural Labs stated that this time in 2017, they had 2996 samples for Dicamba. This year, they have only received 615 samples for testing Dicamba. By the numbers, that’s roughly 20% of the prior year testing. Don Heinrich, Chubb Agribusiness Claims stated that they have less then 10 % of the claims volume from last year. Hearing this drop in numbers, the question is did Dicamba Tolerate Soybean seed sales increase this much?
The final numbers are not in yet for the seed industry, but most predict at around 40+/- million acres were planted of Dicamba or Dicamba Tolerate Soybeans.
As you read articles published by Farm magazines, the complaints are still high with the states department’s of agriculture. As of July 15, farmers, homeowners and other s filed 605 official complaints of suspected Dicamba damage with state departments of agriculture across soybeans growing states. Experts are estimating 1.1 million acres of Dicamba damage.
All of these facts leave us to believe that Dicamba is still creating problems for the Ag Industry. If you’re assigned a Dicamba claim, make sure that you’re reviewing the new labels for 2018. The Ag Claims Association has updated the Insured Questionnaire for Dicamba Claims in 2018, it’s posted on the website for ACA members to use on their claims.