In a special meeting June 23, the Arkansas State Plant Board passed an emergency rule on a 9-5 vote that would ban the use of in-season dicamba on row crops. At the same time, the board wants to speed implementation of enhanced penalties for misuse, with fines up to $25,000 per infraction.
The measure now moves to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for review before being submitted to the executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for approval.
If both parties approve the measure, it would become effective after being filed with the secretary of state’s office and be in effect for 120 days.
Until the emergency rule goes into effect, Engenia brand dicamba may still be used on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton.
Hutchinson has followed this issue closely and previously asked state Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward and Plant Board director Terry Walker to visit farmers in areas with heavy dicamba damage.
Following the plant board’s action, Monsanto issued a statement saying the decision “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,” according to the Monsanto statement. “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.”
The statement went on to say that the board’s previous rulings “have not been beneficial to Arkansas farmers” and that they put the state’s farmers at a disadvantage to couknterparts in other states where dicamba prohibitions do not exist.
The plant board special meeting June 23 was in response to a revote that the board had to conduct. After voting on the proposed ban earlier in the week, it was pointed out that proper procedure was not followed.
As of 9:10 a.m., June 23, 242 complaints of suspected dicamba misuse in 19 Arkansas counties had been filed with the plant board. All but one of those counties are in the eastern part of the state.
Earlier this year, the plant board approved a ban on all in-season over-the-top uses of the DGA dicamba formulations on Xtend soybean and XtendFlex cotton varieties genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide. Monsanto’s XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and DuPont’s FeXipan with VaporGrip Technology were affected by the plant board’s actions. The proprietary technology is designed to reduce volatilization.
Engenia, a BAPMA dicamba formulation from BASF, was allowed for use on the dicamba-tolerant crops, but growers and applicators had to meet strict requirements. They had to first take and pass an applicators’ educational class.
In addition, the Arkansas state Engenia label prohibits applications when wind speeds exceed 10 mph; the federal label allows applications up to 15 mph. The Arkansas label also imposes a 100-foot buffer around each treated field and requires a one-fourth mile buffer between a treated upwind field and a sensitive crop.
Dicamba formulations used for pastures are exempt from the emergency regulations as long as producers and applicators follow Arkansas state label requirements.