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.