Sounds like the legislature next week will be talking more about dicamba, the controversial weed-control chemical.
I conclude this from a letter by Gale Stewart, a Little Rock lawyer, farm owner and plaintiff in a lawsuit attempting to limit the use of the chemical. She copied me on the letter she distributed to farmers and others:
An order by the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed (stopped) our TRO (temporary restraining order) and moved the deadline for dicamba spraying until June 30, 2021, when it was too hot and humid for it to be applied safely under federal and state requirements. There are widespread reports of damage to crops, trees, gardens, and shrubs and widespread uproar over damages.
Our valuable ancient forest remnants are under threat, sycamores, cypress, pines and white oak trees in particular. Trees that were old when De Soto crossed the Mississippi are damaged and dying. Soybeans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and other garden crops are damaged.
Spraying has also brought arson and intimidation. Terry Fuller, who was chairman of the Arkansas Plant Board until June, reported damage to his soybeans on July 1, 2021. By the beginning of his church service on July 4, 2021, someone had burned 40 of his hay bales.
This kind of intimidation is illegal under federal and state law and is possibly a violation of the RICO Act, Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations designed by our own Senator John L. McClellan to target organized crime. It gives lie to the farmer’s motto that “a farmer would never do anything to damage another farmer.” It is mob intimidation right here in conservative Middle-America and it is a shame on us and flagrant mockery of the rule of law.
Please be alert to damage to your property and to public property. Please take photographs, note locations, and send complaints to your state representative, state senator, the governor, and the Arkansas Plant Board. Remember the form that is attached to this email. You can take GPS coordinates of damage with your cell phone. (I can’t describe the process with any clarity but any six-year-old can explain it. )
I saw the damage at Old Town Lake at Marianna this last weekend and there were many ancient cypress trees that are in distress. There was also tree damage at the Louisiana Purchase State Park, at the White River Refuge, and on fields near the White River Levee.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has issued a Dicamba Rule Reminder, which I have attached. It contains a form for reporting damage and requesting an investigation.
Please do not let your discouragement at the slow pace of change stop you from filing a complaint. Government processes move slowly, but they do move in response to popular demand. Basically, up to now, pro-dicamba forces have just been louder than we are, but what is happening is not right. You cannot grow the economy or healthy people in a place that you can’t grow tomatoes, shrubs, and trees.
You should also complain to your elected officials.
The House and Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee is holding a joint meeting on Monday, July 19, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. A notice is attached. Please contact your State Senator and Representative, attend the meeting if you can, and get on the agenda.
You should also contact the governor and send him your complaints and your photographs.
You have a constitutional right to be secure in your person, houses, papers, and effects. You certainly have a right to have your land and property free of uninvited air-borne poisons. It may be a slow walk, but you just have to keep on keeping on.
The Arkansas Agriculture Department reminder that Stewart mentioned said this week:
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is reminding farmers and applicators about the State Plant Board’s 2021 rule amendments that prohibit the in-crop application of dicamba after June 30.
The federal law that applies to labeling and use of pesticides allows states to enact rules for pesticide use that are more restrictive than the federal label. While the federal label may indicate that dicamba can still be applied to cotton, and that smaller buffer zones are in order, the more restrictive provisions of the Arkansas rule are controlling.
Farmers and applicators who fail to comply with the Arkansas rule may be subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation and possible suspension or revocation of their applicator license.