The combination of staff shortages at the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a surge in claims — especially ones related to dicamba drift — across the state has led to slow response times in investigating those claims, state agriculture officials say.
The state typically receives about 80 complaints per year, department officials say, but that number has been significantly higher in recent years. There were 120 additional complaints in 2016 and 315 additional complaints last year. This year has seen 215 complaints through Monday.
Dicamba is the active ingredient in weed killers produced by Monsanto and other companies. Farmers in Missouri and across the country have filed complaints in recent years of the herbicide drifting from its intended target to crops that aren’t engineered to withstand it, causing severe damage.
Compounding the surge in claims is the fact that the agriculture department is currently short five employees, and those employees can take up to six months to train once they’re hired.
Read more: Columbia Missourian