- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A group representing farmers said Tuesday that it’s calling on the state to toughen oversight and penalties related to pesticide use.

The Iowa Farmers Union said members have petitioned the state to change rules governing pesticide drifting through the air. The group says chemicals typically used on conventional crops can drift and damage organic produce grown nearby.

“It’s a question of basic fairness and creating a framework, a set of rules and best practices so that all types of family farms can co-exist and be successful,” said group President Jana Linderman. “My success as a family farmer should not come at the expense of my neighbor and vice versa.”

Linderman said the group would like the state to require commercial pesticide users to notify some nearby farms 48 hours before spraying. Other changes the group is seeking seek include increasing fines for operations that repeatedly break the pesticide rules and more public disclosure about the rules and penalties on the books.

A spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture said officials would meet with the group Thursday and will consider the request.

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