The Saint Louis-based company that makes dicamba is responding to a proposed ban on the high-tech weed killer for the 2018 growing season.
Ty Vaughn, global regulatory vice president for Monsanto, said the company is disappointed and troubled by a vote from the state plant board to pursue a ban on farm applications of dicamba after April 15. Vaughn said dicamba is being used successfully in other states.
“We’ve seen growers in 33 states over the past year have really good success with our system. Our main goal here is to allow growers in Arkansas to have the same access,” said Vaughn.
He did not agree with accusations that dicamba is traveling great distances through the air and landing on crops that are not resistant to the herbicide. The state plant board has fielded nearly 1,000 calls; some farmers say it’s causing crop injury that’s putting their farms at high risk for financial ruin.
“We need to be following science,” said Vaughn.
He described a series of 1,200 controlled tests and 25 field studies that he said did not support the theory that dicamba is too volatile and drifts to fields unexpectedly. He said the company can help with educational efforts aimed at curbing any application errors made by farmers who may not be following instructions on barriers, wind speeds and direction.
The state plant board voted unanimously following a seven-hour meeting on Thursday to accept the recommendations of a task force and pursue a ban on dicamba for April 16 to October 31st, which would effectively be the entire growing season next year.
The decision followed months of concern from farmers, primarily in Mississippi County. Some described dicamba as the most controversial issue in the local farming community in many years and said it was pitting former friends against each other and sparking arguments and even physical fights.
Vaughn said Monsanto will continue to work to get its product back into Arkansas for the next growing season. A public hearing is scheduled for November 8, and the ban would still have to be approved by the state legislature. At a recent meeting with farmers in rural Leachville, Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicated a willingness to accept such a ban.
“We’re a company based on science, and we really just hope that people allow science to prevail,” said Vaughn.
This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media, a statewide journalism collaboration among public media organizations. Arkansas Public Media reporting is funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK and from members of the public. You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.