Arkansas Bans Spraying Of Monsanto Weedkiller To Protect Farmers

Andrew DeMillo FileAP Images

An Arkansas legislative panel voted to ban the spraying of dicamba weedkiller after mid-April to protect farmers from potential crop damage. A legislative subcommittee’s early vote supported the state Plant Board’s proposed ban. Then, Friday, a Legislative Council officially voted in favor of the ban. The ban will extend until the end of October. Monsanto claims that dicamba-based herbicides are safe when used according to label restrictions.

Dicamba herbicides were linked to millions of acres of crop damage in the United States during the 2017 growing season, Reuters reports. The ban reportedly has further-reaching implications too. Reuters reported that the state ban of dicamba-based herbicides makes soybean and cotton seeds genetically engineered by Monsanto to resist the herbicide less attractive as crop choices.

Last year, farmers reported that new formulations of the herbicides evaporated and drifted away from the intended areas. This drift, according to farmers’ reports, harmed crops in other areas, because not all of their crops were genetically modified to resist the herbicide.

Monsanto, currently being acquired by Bayer AG, filed a lawsuit in an attempt to reverse the state’s restrictions. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court claiming the Plant Board “exceeded its authority in prohibiting the weed killer,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

Minnesota, Missouri, and North Dakota are among other states that have restricted dicamba spraying for the upcoming growing season. Still, Seeking Alpha reported that Arkansas’ new restrictions are “the strictest limits” ever imposed on the herbicide product.

The state banned Monsanto’s XtendiMax with VaporGrip last year after the manufacturer failed to provide adequate testing data as requested by Arkansas state officials.

Arkansas soybean farmer Reed Storey says herbicide damaged his crops last year.Featured image credit: Andrew DeMillo AP Images

“Until they can find a newer formulation, then I’m completely tickled pink with the decision,” Arkansas farmer Reed Storey told Reuters. Storey claims his crops were damaged by the dicamba-based herbicides.

Prior to Friday’s decision by Arkansas lawmakers, Monsanto projected that farmers would grow 40 million acres of Xtend soybeans. That would be double the 2017 acreage. The Inquisitr previously reported that Monsanto was offering an incentive to U.S. farmers willing to use the herbicide, which may have contributed to the projected growth in acreage. Monsanto said it would refund soybean farmers more than half of farmers’ purchase price for XtendiMax if farmers agree to spray it on their GMO soybeans. Monsanto offered farmers $6 per acre to apply the herbicide on Xtend soybeans in 2018. XtendiMax costs farmers around $11 per acre to purchase.