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Dow Herbicide Now Effectively Banned in the Northeast

This shows labeling Dow voluntarily agreed to place on herbicides containing aminopyralid. The label prohibits the use of products such as Milestone on New England pastureland.

An herbicide that tainted Green Mountain Compost last summer can no longer legally be used on Vermont pastures. But compost companies still worry the chemical will find its way into their products.

GMC compost, made at the Chittenden Solid Waste District facility in Williston, damaged or killed some broadleaf garden plants, such as tomatoes, costing the district at least $800,000 in compensation to gardeners.

The cause of the contamination was found to be aminopyralid. That agent is found in Dow weed-control products Milestone and Forefront. It apparently entered Green Mountain Compost in manure from horses that consumed feed treated with aminopyralid products. Milestone is used to kill up to 85 plant varieties.

The discovery was the result of many months of forensic work by CSWD, the state Agency of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and pesticide giant Dow Agrosciences .

The identification of aminopyralid as the cause of the compost contamination led to Dow voluntarily changing its labeling of the chemical, ruling out its use on pastures in New England or for any purpose in New York. Any violation, or off-label use, is a federal offense. The new restrictions are aimed at keeping aminopyralid out of horse feed, specifically hay. Horse manure is often a key ingredient in local compost.

Changes in labeling and sales are good news, according to CSWD manager Tom Moreau, but he and other Vermont composters remain concerned about Internet sales of the herbicide and feed, the possible use of older supplies that do not carry the new label and the challenges of enforcement.

While the state has made Milestone a Class A-Restricted Use herbicide (as Forefront has been for some time), meaning that it is only to be applied by licensed applicators who then report the application to the state once a year, composters worry that some farmers might order from out-of-state suppliers.

The revised federally required label restricts the use of Milestone/Forefront -- herbicides for broadleaf weed species -- so that they will no longer be used on pasture in New England. If either product has been used in a field as weed killer, hay to be used for feed can only be planted after an 18-month interval, a precaution only one other state, Montana, has instituted.

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May 19, 2019, 8:24 am PDT

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