In trial against Bayer and BASF, Missouri peach farmer testifies about alleged dicamba damage

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - In June 2018, Bill Bader’s grandson wanted a ripe peach to eat, so the two got in an all-terrain vehicle and drove to the area of Bader’s farm where the fruit would be about the size of baseballs, ready to eat fresh off the tree. Only when they got there, the peaches were on the ground. The weakened trees just couldn’t hold the fruit. The grandson asked Bader what to do now.

Dicamba on trial: Peach farmer takes the stand in lawsuit against Bayer, BASF

Since 1970, Bill Bader has worked on peach farms in Dunklin County, Missouri, just north of the Arkansas border. Bader started picking peaches at age 13, and in 1988, he established Bader Farms.

The farm grew to become the largest peach grower in Missouri, shipping fruit to grocery stores such as IGA and Wal-Mart, as well as others across eight states in the Midwest and South. “A peach we picked today will be in the grocery store tomorrow morning,” Bader testified in federal court in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday. Bader took the stand a week and a half into a trial of a lawsuit he filed against German agribusiness giants Bayer and BASF. Bader alleges that drift from the herbicide dicamba has damaged his peach trees and made his 1,000-acre operation no longer sustainable.

Dicamba on trial: Despite assurances to farmers, BASF told pesticide applicators dicamba may cause soybean damage

While BASF was telling farmers there would be no yield impacts from dicamba drift in 2017, the company was privately telling pesticide applicators that any drift they caused could cause yield loss, according to Monday video testimony from Gary Schmitz, tech service regional manager for the Midwest. Schmitz was the first official from BASF to testify in the ongoing trial of the civil lawsuit filed by Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri. In the lawsuit, Bader Farms alleges that Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, and BASF knew their dicamba-related products released beginning in 2015 would cause damage to other farmers, yet released the products anyway. 

Monsanto released cotton seeds genetically engineered to withstand being sprayed by dicamba in 2015 and similar soybean seeds in 2016, but neither BASF nor Monsanto released accompanying herbicides, designed to be less volatile than older versions of dicamba, until 2017. In 2015 and 2016, many farmers illegally sprayed BASF’s older versions of the volatile herbicide on their dicamba-tolerant crops, according to the lawsuit. Bader Farms alleges that it is no longer a sustainable business after being hit by dicamba drift each year since 2015.

Report warns of dangers from staff decline at Illinois EPA

The state's lack of investment in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is putting citizens at increased risk of public health issues, according to a report released by a group of experts on Tuesday.

EPA emails show agency approved Monsanto herbicide label changes after consulting with company

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepared to make label changes for the herbicide dicamba after it caused widespread crop damage, the agency depended on the herbicide’s maker for guidance, documents produced in a federal lawsuit show.

A review of more than 800 pages of documents from a lawsuit filed against the U.S. EPA in January 2017 highlight the process behind how the agency made the label changes.

Foreign-born poultry processing workers face challenges

That could be why 28.7 percent of meat and poultry workers in 2015 were foreign-born non-citizens — more than three times the rate for manufacturing industries in general, according to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report. The work can be an attractive option for newcomers to the country.

Poultry processing workers still face high number of injuries
Conditions at a Tyson plant in Sedalia, Missouri — the state’s second-largest — are a window into what workers face industry-wide.

Although the meat and poultry processing industry’s injury rate has been dropping for years, it remains higher than average for manufacturing, and vast numbers of injuries never get reported in the first place, according to a 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office.