dicamba drift soybeans

Ford Baldwin, weed scientists just doing their jobs

In dealing with the current dicamba-related nastiness, Ford Baldwin, a Delta Farm Press columnist, doesn’t need my help or endorsement — my words carry little weight. But it needs to be addressed because Baldwin — along with other excellent Arkansas weed scientists called out in Monsanto’s Sept. 7 dicamba-related petition — has been unfairly singled out as some nefarious player in the push by the governor’s recent dicamba task force to ban spraying dicamba after April 15.

What really irks Baldwin about the petition is the claim he’s a “paid consultant” for a competing company who spoke to the task force supporting “a statewide ban” on dicamba.

“They’re correct: I am, in fact, a hired expert witness against Monsanto. Yeah, I’ve got a consulting contract with Bayer and have had since 2002. And, yeah, I’m a witness against Monsanto in a peach case up in the (Missouri) Bootheel. I’m in the private sector and Bayer is only one of my clients. There’s no secret there, and the Plant Board members and staff know it.”

Regardless, Baldwin says he “never made” the statement the petition claims. Videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFjw-iKRtvc&feature=youtu.be) shot during the task force meetings are now available on-line and those “will plainly show the only time I spoke was when I was asked a direct question by a task force member on what’s gone on in the Midwest. I purposely avoided doing anything that could be construed as me trying to influence the task force…

“I wish we could just let the actual facts speak, let the chips fall. I expect Monsanto to keep defending their position and technology. They have a right to do that.”

Baldwin has another sticking point. The company, he says, claims prognostications on yield damage and losses “are being hyped, politicized, whatever. They say in most cases there won’t be any major yield losses. Go tell that to (a prominent east Arkansas farmer) who’s staring at major acreage with a 70-bushel-plus historical average. On irrigated ground following corn he’ll be lucky to average 20 bushels this year. Tell that to all the guys cutting 20 bushels less than their historical average.”

Like I said, my words can be easily dismissed. The words of Steve Powles, the renowned Australian specialist on resistant weeds, can’t be. This is how he weighed in on the petition situation over the weekend: “These independent (weed) experts are working in the best interests of U.S. farmers. … In many situations when approved dicamba formulations are sprayed under label conditions in dicamba resistant crops in warm to hot spring/summer conditions there is unacceptable dicamba off-target movement causing damage to crops and other susceptible vegetation. This is agriculturally and environmentally unacceptable.”

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