Arkansas Panel Approves Fines Up to $25,000 for Dicamba Misuse
The bicameral Arkansas Legislative Council approved an emergency rule allowing fines of up to $25,000 for “egregious” misuse of the weedkiller dicamba, the object of 550 complaints of crop damage, says KUAR-FM in Little Rock. The council, sometimes called the Legislature’s most powerful committee because it oversees the executive branch of state government, is expected to decide on Friday whether to ban use of dicamba on cotton and soybeans for the rest of the growing season.
Governor Asa Hutchinson approved both steps, proposed by the state plant board, and forwarded them the legislative council last week for a final decision. Complaints about dicamba damage have skyrocketed this year, confounding hopes an EPA-approved lower-volatility formulation of the herbicide would stop the chemical from drifting onto neighboring fields. In response, the plant board is calling for a 120-day ban on dicamba, with an exception for pastures.
Growers are adopting GE strains of cotton and soybeans that tolerate doses of dicamba to battle so-called pigweed that is developing resistance to other weedkillers. Last year, the seeds were available, but no versions of dicamba were cleared for use on row crops. This year, drift-resistant dicamba was approved for use, and complaints of damage are inundating Arkansas agriculture officials.
Farmers in Tennessee, Missouri, and Mississippi also are reporting damage from the weedkiller, said NPR. “The total area of damaged soybean fields could reach 2 million acres.” A Monsanto official said farmers “will find a way to manage” dicamba. “That’s just part of the learning curve.”