Arkansas farmers rally against dicamba ban

A snowstorm that closed the Capitol building in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Jan. 16 did not stop a determined group of farmers from holding a press conference in the capital city to voice their concerns about the proposed seasonal dicamba ban. The farmers believed the Arkansas State Plant Board had proposed an unjustified ban on dicamba that would negatively affect Arkansas soybean growers.

“We are not a political group, we don’t have lobbyists, we are just farmers,” said Michael McCarty, one of the organizers of the rally. “Grassroots guys who did not like the way things were being handled by a government agency.”

More than 300 farmers representing over 1 millions acres of production in Arkansas had signed a petition urging state leaders to reject the proposed ban.

On Jan. 19 the Arkansas Legislative Council approved the seasonal dicamba ban proposed by the State Plant Board.

Thirty-four states have approved dicamba for in-crop use without additional cutoff or temperature restrictions. Four of those states—North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri and Tennessee—have approved in-crop use of dicamba with additional cutoff dates and/or temperature limits. Arkansas is the only state that will not allow its farmers to use dicamba in-crop. This ban will prohibit over-the-top-applications of dicamba on soybeans and cotton in Arkansas between April 16 and Oct. 13 of this year. The Administrative Rules and Regulations subcommittee approved the ban on Jan.16 and passed it along to the full Legislative Council.

“We are not political people, we don’t know how a government runs but we just can’t even imagine why they are taking a technology away from us that works,” McCarty said.

McCarty and his group will continue to push for a legislative solution to the dicamba situation. House Bill 1725 has been introduced, which would change the State Plant Board from a state agency to an advisory committee that reports to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

McCarty and five other farmers have filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Plant Board asking for a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and judicial review of the this decision to ban dicamba. The plaintiffs allege that the State Plant Board has exceeded its statutory authority and in violation of Arkansas law.

Monsanto has filed a lawsuit challenging the State Plant Board’s decision, as well. Monsanto is asking for a preliminary injunction that would prevent Arkansas from implementing the ban.

“I will plant this technology this year regardless of whether I can spray it or not because of the genetics that are in those soybeans,” McCarty said.

Doug Rich can be reached at 785-749-5304 or [email protected].