A legislative subcommittee today declined to approve a proposed ban on the controversial herbicide dicamba, which many Arkansas farmers say has caused massive damage to their crops due to drift.
Previously, a 120-day moratorium was placed on use of the herbicide last summer. A special task force created by the governor recommended a new spraying ban, which would have lasted from April 16 through October 31, with a plan to revisit the issue for the 2019 growing season after more data and research has been collected and reviewed.
The Plant Board had approved that ban in November. However, it needs legislative approval, so the Plant Board will now take it up again, with the chance to offer revisions, potentially including the cutoff date.
Some farmers want it banned permanently. Other farmers are resisting Arkansas’s movement in that direction, as are the chemical giant BASF (which produces a version of the herbicide) and agricultural giant Monsanto (which engineers dicamba-resistant seed and sells its own version of the chemical).
Monsanto has filed a lawsuit challenging the proposed ban in Pulaski County Circuit Court and asked for an injunction. The lawsuit claims that the April 16 cutoff date is arbitrary.
For background, read David Koon’s gripping cover story from last summer on a murder stemming from a dicamba dispute in Northeast Arkansas.
From the executive summary of the report of the dicamba task force’s executive report, released in September:
The vast impact soybean production has on the state of Arkansas and its residents is the reason why the number of complaints received by the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) alleging misuse of the herbicide dicamba throughout the summer of 2017 is so harrowing. As of Sept. 1, 2017, there have been 963 complaints alleging dicamba misuse over 26 Arkansas counties