Dicamba Issues in Arkansas Continue

National Public Radio reporter Dan Charles reported this week that, “The wild battle in Arkansas over dicamba, the controversial and drift-prone herbicide, just got even crazier. Local courts have told some farmers that they don’t have to obey a summertime ban on dicamba spraying that the state’s agricultural regulators issued last fall. The state has appealed.

“Meanwhile, farmers can’t decide what seeds to plant, because seed and herbicide decisions are tightly linked. Time is short, though, because planting season has arrived.

“‘This not-knowing thing is concerning,’ says Mike Sullivan, a farmer in the town of Burdette. ‘It’s embarrassing, is what it is.'”

The NPR item explained that, “Dicamba has ignited fierce debates among farmers across much of the country. The chemical is now used much more widely because Monsanto has introduced versions of soybeans that have been genetically modified to tolerate it. But last summer, the first year in which dicamba could be sprayed on these tolerant varieties, the chemical drifted into neighboring fields, damaging millions of acres of other crops. The damage was worst in Arkansas, and the state’s Plant Board moved to ban any use of dicamba from April 16 to Oct. 31.

“Monsanto and many farmers fought the rule, but those battles appeared to be resolved when, in February, an Arkansas court dismissed Monsanto’s challenge to the state’s dicamba restrictions.

In late March, though, a different challenge to the dicamba ban, by a group of six farmers, produced a different decision. A judge dismissed the farmers’ lawsuit, citing a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that state agencies cannot be sued — yet the judge also gave the farmers exactly what they wanted. He lifted the ban on those six farmers because, he decided, they had been denied a legal avenue to appeal that ban.”

Mr. Charles noted, “That ruling applied only to the six farmers who’d sued. But other farmers immediately seized the opportunity to file similar lawsuits in other counties. According to press reports, 155 farmers have joined similar lawsuits, and judges in Mississippi County and Phillips County have issued temporary injunctions that allow those farmers to spray dicamba.

“The state government is fighting back, appealing these decisions to the Arkansas Supreme Court.”

This entry was posted in Agriculture Law. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.