Dicamba drift: Arkansas proposes cut-off dates, increased fines

Dicamba drift: Arkansas proposes cut-off dates, increased fines

Committee proposes further restrictions on dicamba products. Mid-April cut-off date for spraying, larger fines proposed.

Faced with numerous fields hit with off-target dicamba drift, the Arkansas State Plant Board will soon consider a wide range of options to curb the problem. Illegal over-the-top use of dicamba on Xtend soybeans has harmed many Mid-South crops.

On Monday (August 8), the board’s Pesticide Committee passed several proposals that will now go to the full Plant Board for consideration.

“Dicamba was the only thing discussed – 2,4-D will be covered at another meeting on Aug. 19,” says Susie Nichols, Arkansas Plant Board Division Manager. “On that day, there will be hearings on incidents from (2015). Following those, Dow is on the agenda to discuss their new pesticides.”

Seeking to place additional restrictions on dicamba, the committee proposed several things:

  • Applications of DMA salt and active formulations of dicamba are prohibited in the state.

“There are exceptions to this for pastures and rangeland. However, to make an application they must be a mile from susceptible crops in all directions.”

  • From April 15 to September 15, products labeled for agricultural use containing DGA salt and sodium salt of dicamba may not be applied.

The same exception as for DMA salt would exist for pastures and rangeland -- a buffer of one mile in all directions for susceptible crops

These strictures “basically mean Monsanto’s new products (M1691 and XtendiMax) can’t be used.

“The Monsanto representatives in the meeting seemed unhappy with the committee’s actions. However, University of Arkansas weed scientists have not been able to test the new Monsanto formulations. Over five years ago, we advised all the manufacturers that research has to be done before products are registered.

“(University researchers) Jason Norsworthy and Tom Barber are still waiting for those formulations. And it won’t be just a couple of months of research before approval is granted. They need two years of study to give something a thumbs up or down.”

How did the committee approach BASF’s Engenia?

“They’d allow it to be used with a 100-foot buffer zone. Also, a quarter-mile buffer downwind from susceptible crops must be maintained.”

Fines

  • A fine of up to $25,000 for an egregious violation.  

“We’re still working on a definition for the word ‘egregious.’ This would have to go through a law change, the state legislature would have to vote it in next year during its next session. This would potentially be $25,000 per incident so someone who violated the law could face a big fine. Any label violation would be an ‘incident’ and any regulation broken could be another $25,000 on top of that.”

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After the full board makes its decisions on the proposals, “they’ll go to the governor and then a legislative review committee. The full board may be able to get this on the agenda for its meeting in September. If not, there may be a special meeting called.”

Thirty days in advance of the full board meeting, a public comment period will open. “Those comments will be read at the meeting, and people will be allowed to speak, before any votes.”

Nichols says there are now 28 drift cases filed with the Plant Board.

How much acreage has been damaged in the state?

“We don’t track acreage damage, at all. Some other states do but we don’t.”

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