‘Procedural error’ prompts Arkansas Plant Board to revisit dicamba ban

dicamba injury
Soybeans are extremely sensitive to even small amounts of dicamba. The beans here display the telltale injury signs of cupped leaves—photo courtesy University of Arkansas

Due to a “procedural error” yesterday (June 20), the Arkansas Plant Board’s vote on an emergency prohibition of dicamba applications in that state has been rendered invalid.

The board will take up the matter again at a special meeting, 10.m., June 23, in Little Rock, according to an Arkansas Department of Agriculture notice.

The department’s communications director Adriane Barnes had this to say to Talk Business & Politics:

“There was a miscount of how many voting members were present at the meeting, either by phone or in person. There will be a complete re-vote on Friday for all measures considered. There is no current new policy at at this time,” she said.

No further explanation was given.

At the meeting June 20, the board was acting on a recommendation from its Pesticide Committee the previous Friday, June 16. The committee had voted unanimously on an emergency ban of all dicamba applications within the state.

The committee was reacting to the more than 135 complaints from 17 counties about off-target movement of dicamba filed in recent weeks.

Of the 16-member Plant Board, one member was absent. Another member, Danny Finch of Jonesboro, wasn’t allowed to vote because he had sustained crop damage. On the committee’s emergency ban proposal, the board voted 8-6.

A few hours after the votes, the Arkansas Agriculture Department found what it said was a procedural error and that nine votes actually were needed to pass the first measure.

After it appeared that the ban failed, the board voted 11-3 to implement further restrictions to only allow Engenia applications using hooded sprayers. In addition, all applications would need a 1-mile buffer upwind from sensitive crops.

All of those actions are moot now, and the Plant Board will revisit the subject Friday.

Earlier this year, the State Plant Board had set strict rules on the in-season use of the herbicide, which is paired with Xtend soybeans and XtendFlex cotton genetically modified to tolerate dicamba.

The board decided that only Engenia dicamba from BASF could be applied in-season and then with stricter rules than the federal label. The active ingredient in Engenia is the BAPMA dicamba formulation, which inherently has lower volatility, according to BASF.

The board prohibited the in-season over-the-top use of XtendiMax and FeXipan DGA dicamba formulations from Monsanto and DuPont, respectively. Both of those products contain the proprietary VaporGrip Technology, which is designed to reduce off-target movement, according to the registrants.

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