For Immediate Release
June 24, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

State Embargoes Wheat as Precautionary Measure

The Kansas Department of Agriculture announced today that wheat at three elevators and in 20 fields covering 1,545 acres in south-central Kansas is under embargo until tests confirm that pesticide residues meet tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“This is entirely precautionary to protect the integrity of Kansas wheat,” said Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky. “We chose this course to minimize economic harm to Kansas farmers while we verify that residue levels are what they need to be.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued the first embargoes for wheat fields in Butler, Cowley, Harper, Kingman, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties late yesterday at the request of the Department of Agriculture. KDHE has authority under state law to prevent from entering the food supply any item that is considered adulterated.

The Department of Agriculture said the embargo was necessary because harvest was getting under way in south-central Kansas.

When the Department of Agriculture learned that wheat from three fields was harvested yesterday before the embargoes could be delivered last night, they tracked it to three elevators: Scoular Grain in Wellington; the Farmers Coop Elevator Company in Garden Plain; and ADM in Hutchinson. KDHE issued embargoes for those facilities today to keep the grain from moving or being commingled with other grain until it can be tested.

At question are late applications of Quilt, a fungicide that requires a 45-day waiting period between application and harvest. Its active ingredients have a low toxicity in humans. However, residue from Quilt’s active ingredients must not exceed limits established by EPA and FDA.

Quilt applications were made to the embargoed fields between May 13 and May 21, meaning the 45-day waiting period expires between June 27 and July 5. If the wheat plants were at the appropriate stage of development when Quilt was applied, then residues are likely within the established tolerances.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture collected field samples to test for residue, and results could be available as early as tomorrow. Samples also have been collected from fields in northwest Kansas, where Quilt applications were documented as late as the first week of June.

The department is also looking at late Quilt applications on 5,999 acres in eight more counties: Ellis, Gove, Jefferson, Logan, Rawlins, Sheridan, Thomas and Trego.

“We’ve been consulting with EPA and FDA, and I feel confident we’re doing the right thing,” Polansky said. “As the nation’s leading wheat producing state, it’s important we do what we can to protect the reputation and integrity of our wheat supply.”