Drift Stories

Prairiesun Organics Case Overview 2017

Crop Care Aerial Spraying LLC plane

This case is closed as of 30 January 18 by the South Dakota Dept of Agriculture Pesticide division. The pilot, Blain Iverson, was found guilty of violating federal labeling laws, however, the family has suffered thousands of dollars in losses in which the commercial applicator has refused to provide any recompense. The family presented their case before the South Dakota Senate Ag Committee hearing on SB179 on 6 February 2018. They are strong voices for stopping drift onto organic farms and finding a solution to this problem in South Dakota.

Glenn Pulse and Angela operate PrairieSun Organics dba Prairiesun Poultry located in Fairview Township 1.8 miles northeast of the DakotaDome in Clay County, South Dakota.  The farm sold organic fresh eggs to local retailers and direct-to-consumer broiler chicken meat hand processed on the farm.   In 2017, they applied for a federal FSIS grant of inspection and subject to organic inspection carried out by Midwest Organic Services Association, a USDA NOP accredited certifying agency. Their FSIS application was cancelled due to delays in final inspection.  On July 12th, they were victims of a severe chemical trespass drift incident on their property and their personal bodies by an off-target drift of aerial application of a restricted use insecticide, fungicides, and herbicides.  They were issued two major non-compliances to USDA NOP rules and could face a total suspension or revocation of certification if this continues.  All of their prime poultry and grazing land was removed from certified organic status in 2017. Angela and Glenn are out of the poultry business no fault of their own until 2020.  The pilot reportedly sprayed Brigade 2EC insecticide and Trivapro fungicide, however many herbicides showed up in the test results. The active ingredient Propiconazole in Trivapro exceeded the EPA tolerance levels for forage in two samples resulting in the owner being reported to the EPA.  The dead bee sample tested positive for insecticides at or above the lethal dose.  There were three collections from three inspectors on three different days and all the samples coincided with the same active chemicals that were reportedly sprayed on 12 July.  Their clothing was also tested.  Active ingredients that tested positive in the samples were:

  • Acetochlor (herbicide)
  • Metolachlor (herbicide)
  • Metribuzin (herbicide)
  • Atrazine (herbicide)
  • Trifloxystrobin (fungicide)
  • Azoxystrobin (fungicide)
  • Propiconazole (fungicide)
  • Pyraclostrobin (fungicide)
  • Trifloxystrobin (fungicide)
  • Bifenthren (insecticide)

Prairiesun Organics Case Overview 2018

On July 9th, 2018, a commercial applicator from Southeast Farmers Coop applied a pesticide mix to conventional soybeans not in accordance with the EPA labeling instructions and caused severe drift once again onto sensitive areas owned by Prairiesun Organic. Fruit trees and fields transitioning back to organic from last year's drift incidence were set back another year resulting in 2021-2022 before any product from these affected areas can be marketed as certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.  In addition, like in 2017, the Pulse's were outside on their property and exposed to the vapors, as well as their pets and chickens.  The drift was detected all the way to the bushes next to their house, which is  over 100' from the target crop. The investigation is ongoing by SDDA.  The active ingredients found in the products sprayed that day are:

  • Glyphosate (herbicide)
  • Clethodim (herbicide)
  • Fluxapryoxad (Fungicide)
  • Pyraclostrobin (Fungicide)
  • Acifluorfen (herbicide)

Plus, they had the following chemical show up on all samples including clothing:

  • Aminocyclopyrachlor (Herbicide not approved by EPA for row crops or grazing vegetation)

The Pulse's are deeply grieved by this tragedy once again.  In response to this, Angela has resolved to do whatever she can to stop the onslaught of chemicals and violations and protect human life.  While both  Angela and Glenn are still battling health issues, they continue to be vigilant advocates for change in South Dakota for improving and strengthening pesticide application laws and rules to prevent drift on organic farms and people.

A word about Restricted Use Pesticides: "The labeling requirements for restricted use must be followed."  What I found in the EPA label review manual is the following: "Restricted use pesticides are subject to the labeling requirements specified in 40 CFR Part 156, including the requirements set out in 40 CFR 156.10(j)(2) described further in PR Notice 93-1."

The findings from the Prairiesun Organics investigation resulted in this website to help other South Dakota organic farmers and registered sensitive sites with educational resources on how to properly respond to chemical trespass. The Pulses also worked with local lawmakers to introduce South Dakota Senate Bill 179.  If it would have passed, it would have added more protection for organic farmers and damage recovery through insurance.  They are going back in 2019 to try again.  Obviously the promises made by SDDA was not initiated by them except with the rollout of Driftwatch.  More work is needed.