During a Friday morning meeting, on a 9 to 5 vote, the Arkansas State Plant Board agreed to ban the spraying of dicamba products. As drift complaints are picking up steam the board determined “an emergency exists.”
Over 240 drift complaints (http://www.aad.arkansas.gov/arkansas-dicamba-information-updates) have been made with the vast majority coming out of east Arkansas. Mississippi County in the state’s northeast has 81 complaints alone.
The board also voted to speed up implementation for a new penalty matrix targeting those committing egregious spraying violations. Without picking up the pace the new penalties – up to $25,000 per violation – would only go into effect on August 1.
The rules now move to the governor’s office.
Late Friday evening Monsanto – responsible for approved dicamba Xtend technology and also the XtendiMax dicamba formulation (not approved for use in Arkansas) — released the following statement:
Today, the Arkansas State Plant Board recommended an action that will prevent farmers from having access to all of the available weed control options. The recommendation made by the Plant Board to ban the use in Arkansas of the only remaining dicamba product previously approved for in-crop use with dicamba-tolerant crops blatantly ignores the interests of Arkansas farmers. The Plant Board’s decision was made without hearing directly from farmers about the impact of removing a valuable weed-management tool, without providing sufficient notice to the public and without allowing the opportunity for public input. The Plant Board did not allow farmers to describe how the Board’s mid-season action to abruptly remove a valuable weed management tool would affect their operations in connection with the approximately 1.5 million acres of dicamba-tolerant seed already planted throughout Arkansas. Instead the Board based its decision on off-target movement claims that are still being investigated and have not been substantiated.
Based on a prior decision by the Plant Board, Monsanto has not sold any dicamba products within Arkansas. Experience in the other 33 states where farmers have access to and the ability to fully use dicamba herbicide technology would indicate that decisions to prevent the full usage of dicamba technology have not been beneficial to Arkansas farmers. Arkansas farmers should not be forced to continue to operate at a disadvantage to farmers in other states where bans like the Board’s current proposed action do not exist.
The Plant Board’s proposed ban now moves to the Governor’s office for consideration. We encourage all impacted farmers to reach out to Governor Hutchinson to share their concerns about the effects this decision will have on their operations. It is critical that the State hear from those most impacted by this proposed ban.
Source: David Bennett, Delta Farm Press
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