The Arkansas State Plant Board is holding a special meeting at this hour to discuss changes to their proposed ban on the controversial herbicide dicamba in the coming growing season.
The herbicide has been blamed for widespread crop damage in East Arkansas since seed producers Monsanto and BASF released genetically-modified versions of their soybean and cotton seeds that produce dicamba-resistant plants, allowing farmers to use the herbicide against pigweed and other stubborn weed problems in their cotton and soybeans. Critics of the herbicide say that even newly formulated versions of dicamba, supposedly less volatile, can evaporate and lift from applications in the night and drift onto neighboring farms.
The dicamba issue has divided the farming community in East Arkansas, and led to at least one death. In August 2017, Arkansas Times published a cover story on the murder of Mississippi County farmer Mike Wallace, who was shot to death in October 2016 after confronting a neighbor over dicamba damage to his crops. Allan Curtis Jones, of Arbyrd, MO, was convicted in December of second degree murder in Wallace’s death, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
On November 8, the Plant Board voted to ban the use of the herbicide during the growing season from April 16 through Oct. 31, with exceptions for applications in pastures, ranches, forestry and others. But the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Administrative Rules and Regulations subcommittee voted December 12 to put the regulation changes on hold, asking the plant board to consider more evidence and the possibility of different zones in the Delta where dicamba could be used differently and at different times of the year.
UPDATE: By a vote of 11-3, the Plant Board stuck to their guns and voted again to ban the in-crop use of dicamba between April 16 and Halloween. A legislative subcommittee will take up the issue of the ban later this month.