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Monsanto responds to Arkansas board’s dicamba vote

Friday morning, the Arkansas State Plant Board bowed to the pressure of more than 240 complaints connected to alleged drifting of the chemical dicamba. A vote passed 9-5 to ban the sale and use of the product — a rare kind of step to happen midseason. Dicamba, which is sprayed on genetically tolerant fields of soybean in order to kill pigweed, is suspected of drifting into non-tolerant fields and damaging those crops.

The issue now heads to the Arkansas governor’s office.

The red flag from Monsanto, the maker of the dicamba-tolerant seed, is that the interests of Arkansas’ farmers are being ignored and that there is more research to be done. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “I’m troubled by the Arkansas State Plant Board’s recommendation to deprive Arkansas farmers of an important crop protection tool in the middle of a growing season, especially in light of not hearing directly from those farmers this recommendation impacts.”

He went on to say that products such as the dicamba-tolerant seed, called Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, are vital in the fight again weeds, which steal sunlight, nutrients, and water from soybean crops.

Monsanto released this statement Saturday morning addressing the Arkansas board’s decision:

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.

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Michigan 6-year-old dies in skid steer accident

Our hearts ache with this news out of Michigan this week. A six-year-old boy died Wednesday after falling out of the bucket of a skid steer and being partially run over by the Bobcat.

The Cass County boy was riding with two other children on the skid steer when the accident happened.

According to to WTVB, deputies won’t be releasing the name of the child at the request of the family.

Last month, a Wisconsin 3-year-old was picking rock with his mother when he died after a tragic skid steer accident.

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USDA: No more Brazilian beef until up to snuff

Brazilian beef needs to get better before it can cross the U.S. border. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has suspended all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market.  The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil.  FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products.   That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world.  Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States.  Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness.  Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.  I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

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