Participating in the call were Leslie Duram, Carol Elder, Jane Heim, Randy Hoovey, Gary McDonald, Janet Morse, Anita Poeppel, Brian Poeppel, and Michelle Wander.
Jane Heim, Anita Poeppel, and Brian Poeppel discussed their work to date on the issue of spray drift. As the Spray Drift Education Network, they have created a brochure and web site, http://www.spraydriftillinois.com. Their goal is to educate people that spray drift can and must be reported to the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). At a 2009 hearing before the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee attended by Anita and Brian Poeppel, Warren Goetsch testified that because the Illinois Department of Agriculture receives very few complaints about spray drift, it is not a problem. Therefore, it is critical that spray drift incidents be reported. Even if the complaints do not result in consequences for offenders, they will help by establishing the extent of the problem.
In the meantime, the IDOA has signed up to participate in Driftwatch, a program that allows landowners to register their land as having pesticide sensitive crops and / or habitats. Land can be registered on the Driftwatch web site. Anyone without an Internet connection who wishes to sign up may contact Jane Heim.
There was consensus among the group that spray drift is the most significant policy issue that the Illinois Organic Growers Association could take on. It is critical to the integrity and viability of organic crop production, and no existing organization is addressing it. The group preferred the name Spray Drift Committee, without the word “Policy” in the title.
Anita and Jane are willing to co-chair the committee. The next step is to develop a communication strategy, including a proposal to the IOGA steering committee for possible resources to support the dissemination of educational materials for reporting spray drift complaints. Other communication tools include the IOGA web site and emails to IOGA members. Leslie Durham indicated that one of her students might be able to provide assistance in creating a map showing the geographic distribution of spray drift complaints.