Depending on the complexity and severity of a case, it may take the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) up to six (6) months to investigate a pesticide complaint, which must be filed in writing. If you file a complaint, or a complaint has been filed against you, here is what to expect:
- An MDA Agricultural Chemical Inspector (ACI) may conduct a site visit within one to two (1-2) business days, sometimes the same day of the incident.
- If the ACI takes crop or vegetative samples, they are submitted to the MDA Laboratory Services Division within one to three (1-3) business days. It may take two to three (2-3) weeks for samples to be analyzed. Lab results are sent to the complainant.
- Ongoing investigations can take from three to six (3-6) months in order for interviews, phone calls, emails to take place. The MDA will also investigate whether potential violations have occurred. In the case of pesticide drift onto organic crops or fields, the MDA Dairy & Food Inspection Division may order crop destruction for safety reasons.
- Enforcement action is determined and put into effect within six to eight (6-8) months from the time the complaint is filed. See the Pesticide Drift brochure (PDF) for details.
The MDA receives approximately 150 pesticide-related complaints per year. Approximately 66 percent of cases warrant an investigation. Of those, 25 to 30 percent are closed without action because allegations of pesticide drift or misuse could not be substantiated.
During 2012 to 2014, about 30 percent of all complaints received related to pesticide drift. A number of these complaints involve lawn care applications in urban settings.
Of the total complaints received annually, approximately 40 percent result in financial penalties.