2-4D Drift, farmer doesn't care, ag officials protect him

Bear with me here, the punchline is PERSIMMONS
After 2 years of 2-4D drift, from fields rented by a local farm family, I am furious. Are there any laws with teeth in them? I thought last year he’d just done it because the ragwort had gotten so thick and laughed off his roundup. I called the county agent, who tried to tell me that it could have been from anywhere, and also that because EVERYONE sprays it, no one is at fault. But he did call the farmer in question, and it was 2-4D.
This year he did it again, so I called the county agent again, who called the farmer and found out it was 2-4D again. I called the state, and they sent out the guy who checks out spray damage. He agreed that the whole edge of the forest was devastated for the third of a mile to our property. But he insisted my tomato plants looked fine. I didn’t think so. Two weeks later my tomato plants were all distorted. I actually took the ones I hadn’t planted to a county agent, even though the ones in the ground were beginning to grow out of it. He told me “they look great!”
I said, “They look like they will recover.” No matter how I worded it, I could not get him to admit that any bad thing had happened to my tomato plants. So now 2 experts have said our plants all look fine.

All of this has been informal, by phone or in person, with nothing in writing. So next I submit a formal request for investigation in writing. That family is farming thousands of acres, surrounded by forests, streams, homes. And I’m sure they are going to do it again next year. This year they sprayed 4/11. Last year my photographs on my phone are dated July 27, which implies he sprayed in late June. You aren’t supposed to spray 2-4D so late in the year.
Anyone have any ideas? I should go around other fields they farms, photograph more damage.

So as I’m looking at the damage to trees on our property, just oaks and dogwoods, etc, trees that seem to really show it, I suddenly notice that apart from the twisted leaves on my grafted persimmons, they all have dead twigs. Now I’m REALLY upset! . We are talking 15-20 year old trees.

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Are these planted persimmons or wild persimmons? If they are planted ones, the pesticide inspector should be taking that more seriously. Wild ones, eh, they probably are not.
I would follow up with the pesticide inspector. There should be some way that you can make a formal complaint, especially if you do have crop damage.

If that farmer is renting property, you might contact who he is renting the property from and mention your problem.

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@thecityman has had the same experience and is also in TN. Maybe he can help you. Meanwhile here’s one of his posts: Neighbor let herbicide spray drift onto me for 3rd time : Big Correction! - General Fruit Growing - Growing Fruit

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Hi Donna. As @Fruitnut mentioned, I have had lots of experience with your problem, and right here in TN!!! But my situation- at least when it comes to the state- was ENTIRELY different from yours.

The thread posted above is a minor one… The thread I really want you to read which sort of chronicles my whole experience from the moment I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my trees (turned out to be 2, 4-D) all the way up to resolution can be found here:

the title of the thread is because I started off just wondering why my pears had this accelerated, but twisted growth.

The main thing I want to convey to you is that my experience with the state folks was totally different from yours. Yours sounds like what I was expecting, and what usually happens in government, especially when its a “little guy” complaining about a “big guy”. And my case was just like yours in that regard as well…I am a 6 acre hobby grower and the man who sprayed me is a massive-scale farmer from a family of massive scale farmers with a long history and a lot of power. So I expected to be blown off…but it was the opposite. Its one of the few times I HAVE been impressed with state government!

I did however, take a different approach which I believe made all the difference. It turns out that I am a City Manager and have worked my whole life in government, so I took an approach that time and experience has taught me is helpful. What I did is called my state senator first and asked for the number of the Dept of Ag people who oversee spray drift and other pesticide issues. I didn’t call him because I have any power (I don’t) or because I thought he would be especially helpful (I didn’t) but so I could use his name. I then called the supervisor of the drift spray state employee, and I told him "I talked to Senator XYZ today about a spray problem I have. He was upset about it and gave me your phone number and said you would help me with this. I wasn’t lying- I did speak to the Senator for about 45 seconds before he transferred me to his staff who I’m sure looked up the name and number from the internet as I could have done. So yes, I was bluffing (but not lying) when I asked like I had a personal relationship with the senator and that he was angry and would be following my case! ha. So the supervisor took me seriously and told me he was going to give me the number of his “best” spray person. By the time I got to her, she new a senator and her boss were involved in this, she probably figured I had a good deal of clout/power to get them involved (I didn’t), and she therefore took it serious. Whether it was my little trick or just good luck I don’t know, but I got a good spray person Iit was a woman, btw) who did a great job on my case.

I have 3 different farmers who spray 3 different sides of my property, so if ever there was a case where the state lady could have just said we can’t tell who drifted it would have been my case, but she didn’t do that.

This woman actually did interviews with not just the 3 farmers who join me, but also about 3 others who spray land not too far from me. She got all the dates that they sprayed, she pulled wind weather reports for all those days to see how much wind there was. She went to 5 or 6 different farmers and pulled samples from their tanks. She picked leaves off of about 50 of my trees, and sent all that to the lab and asked them to compare the residue on my leaves to what came out of each tank she took samples from. Using this and other things, she eventually determined which farmer had sprayed me. She filed a GIANT report on everything she did and everything her investigation uncovered and so on. SHe presented all of this to some kind of hearing board at the TN Dept of Ag., They found the farmer guilty. Better still they fined him fairly hard (I want to say $1,000 but can’t swear to the amount now) and they made him drive to nashville 2-3 days to take a long class in how to properly spray. They also gave him some kind of probation that said if he did this again, he would be fined $10k AND would loose his right to spray chemicals, meaning he would have to bring in some outside company everytime he sprayed anything- which I’m sure would be extremely expensive.

Of course the neighbor got mad at me for reporting him and getting him in trouble so he had to take a class, pay a fine, and be on “spray probation”. Funny how he killed and permanently damaged a bunch of my trees by carelessly spraying with too small droplet size and too much wind…but he was mad at ME!!! It was awkward because the uncle of the man who sprayed is the Mayor of the town where I am the City Manager, meaning he was kind-of my boss!!! ha.

Anyway, I’m sorry you’ve had such bad results from the state Ag folks when I had such good ones- whatever the reason. I am middle TN region, btw, so that might also account for differences. Anyway, if you have other questions, I’ll be glad to tell you more or try to answer them. Good luck!
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Thank you all for your replies. There are 3 persimmon trees involved, all 3 wild trees I grafted some 15 years ago. One is still pretty small, only about 8 ft, with small crops. The others are 20 ft tall, one crops heavily. Each of them are beside garden areas. So they aren’t wild trees out in a field.
The land owner won’t care what the farmer does.

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Thank you for your response Cityman. Your approach was extremely clever! I’ve been thinking I should call Paul Bailey’s office to see what they had to say, but I would NEVER have thought of such a clever way to approach it. I’m in White co.

The differences in circumstances are these:

There is only one potential culprit, and the nearest edge of the rented fields to the near edge of our property is 1/3 mile, 700 yards away. By the time it drifts to the last of my persimmons, the 2-4D has drifted a half mile, and still distorted leaves. To me, that seems like proof that the farmer is not competent to do that job.

He hasn’t actually killed anything on our property yet, but that’s only because his field is so far away. Well, I dunno, he hasn’t killed any trees right beside that field. I don’t know how many years they can survive it, but this the 2nd year he’s sprayed late and had a lot of drift.

What I have had so far is damage to my garden crops, and delayed or reduced crops, and leaf damage to grafted trees that looks like it may explain a lot of dead twigs. My apple and peach trees mostly don’t show leaf damage, but probably only because of slow growth.

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Your best bet is small claim court. Depending on your jurisdiction the limit is something like $5k to $10k in damages but it is a DIY court that doesn’t require (or allow) lawyers. Even if you win you then have the issue of actually collecting but it would be a start in the right direction.

The first step is to quantify your damages. The court would only award actual, realistic damages such as (realistic) replacement costs. Heck I would establish some realistic damages by planting a test line of apple trees and the like; if they get killed it is easy to establish the replacement cost of the trees, which would be higher than when they were smaller a year prior.

Ideally you would have the damaged plant material tested at a lab. That will cost you, but it would cost you less than putting up with the seasonal damage. Once they get hit time is of the essence; you may see the damage for years in the twisted growth but 2,4-d degrades quickly over time.

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I feel for you. I think maybe I am just a hot head. But my next move would be to get 10ft of surgical hose stretched between two fence posts and launch water balloons full of piss at the neighbor every time I saw him. Right between the eyes. What an f…er.

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Persimmons seem to be especially sensitive to Row Crop Drift. I was out surveying for damage after the row crop farmer was out with the boom sprayer yesterday. Persimmons were the only thing with obvious damage but, it’s only been 24 hours. Persimmons are early this year and the Bean Farmer is behind schedule because of the rain. They probably have their burndown done most years before the persimmons really get going. 80 degrees and 12 MPH winds yesterday when he was spraying. He was out planting today, which I’m sure is an off label procedure. It just highlighted for me how unnatural GMO crops are. The fumes outside still makes me repress the gag reflex.



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It really is an overwhelming, burning stench. Such a toxic mess of chemicals.

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That was one of the main reasons my family and I all moved away from Illinois over 8 years ago. Never looked back, and don’t miss it one bit. We were on three acres surrounded by thousands of acres of roundup resistant farmlands. We lost many trees and plants to herbicide drift. If there were trees and- (God forbid!)- a little prairie grass growing along creeks, the large farmers would tear them out, plow them under, and plant a few extra rows of corn right up to the edge of the drainage ditches. The erosion in a lot of fields was unreal. The problem was not usually the smaller generational farmers. They are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. The problem was “farmers” who owned tens of thousands of acres and hire out everything, and only come into contact with soil when they are dropped in it at the end of the road. Most in our area lived Chicago way. I am glad not to be raising my children there. I will gladly exchange frosts in June and snows in May for herbicide drift and spraying airplanes any day.

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Monoculture Row crop farming has had a horrible economic impact in the Midwest. There tends to be only 2 or 3 farmers per country. They lease the land for $60 to $100 per acre. The only people who can afford to own land are high net worth individuals who view it as along term investment. I actually see rural communities with poor ground looking much more vibrant. Took a trip to southern Missouri where it’s not suitable for corn and soy. There were many cattle ranches and all kinds off cottage industry type business. The homes looked good. Not the dilapidated abandoned homes you see everywhere around category 1 and 2 farmland

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My property in SW michigan was crop rotated for only 4-5 yrs before I purchased it. The fields were void of insect and earth worms and poorly draining. Neonics in seeds kill a lot of life from the soil, bad and good. After 3 yrs Im finally seeing earthworms as the topsoil gets built back up. Rsins are soaking well into soil now also with dwf clover and dwf rye slowing the movement of water.

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Lots of hate for farmers/farming here.
Personally, I am a fan of folks who feed the world.

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Where do you see the hate? I have personally seen no mention at all of hate for farmers in this thread.

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Just fyi corn and soy tolerant of 2,4-D and Dicamba has been out for several years now so they can spray later into the year. Bayer was actually breeding corn that’s resistant to five different herbidices but I don’t know where that stands.

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did they make the farmer pay for the damaged trees? or only the fine towards the city?

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Thank you all for your replies. The #*^& farmer did it again. This time I was warned in advance by the co agent who has agreed to act as go between. I hauled my 6 flats of tomato and pepper plants to town and left them there til for 3 days after the spraying. If only we could have been there with them! Starting the day after we breathed the fumes ll night, my husband’s nose stopped up, and by the next day it was obvious his polyps had come back. He developed nasal polyps 23 years ago after a bad dentist gave him mercury poisoning, followed by a flu vaccine (more mercury, and no he’s never had another one!!!). After 15 years of misery he figured out it was related to low thyroid, killed off the infection with iodine and took natural thyroid for a month. For 8 years his sinuses were fine. SUDDENLY the polyps are back. Me, I have felt terrible since, and my ears have been congested starting 2 days after the spray. Fortunately frequently dosing with Niacinamide seems to be reducing the congestion and making me feel pretty normal again. The farmer was planning to use glyphosate and a 2-4D ester on

THE 24TH OF APRIL he sprayed this stuff, plus another chemical to keep it from volatizing. We didn’t get the devastating leaf deformities that we had to look at the whole of 2023, but we certainly got some. Worst hit again are my persimmons. My very best tree, a persimmon grafted 20 years ago to an extremely nice selection, cropped considerably less than usual last year. It’d take a ladder to see if it’s going to bloom this year. My one small grafted branch of ‘Brace #2’ has no flower buds at all, while the larger branch, a kaki called ‘Campbell’ has at least a few flower buds. I’m afraid if this keeps happening that my persimmons are going to go into a serious decline.
Also, at the time of spraying, we had snow peas and strawberries ready to pick. We waited a week, but it’s awfully hard to avoid eating something you’ve looked forward to all winter. So that may be part of the health problem, tho symptoms started immediately after the spraying.

@Donna_inTN … that is so bad… hate you have to deal with that.

My BIL is a cattle farmer has horses and big pasture … produces all his own hay and sells much to others.

He and my sister like to garden… and do well at it… their garden is right next to the hay field and a couple years ago I noticed a nice young wild persimmon growing on the north corner of their garden.

I checked it out for grafting something like kasandra or JT02 to… but its growth was all twisted up and contorted… leaves looked funky.

He seems to love to spray chemicals… sprays his yard and hay fields… it has obviously messed up this persimmon right next to his garden… and no doubt gets on his garden crops.

That would urk me something awefull… but for him… seems there is no concern at all.

We have a mutual friend that got some kind of lymphoma cancer a few years back… he told us his doc said it was most likely from spraying things like 24D on his pastures…

But they continue on…

Good luck to you Donna !

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