Arkansas’ State Plant Board members voted Wednesday during a public hearing and board meeting to approve regulatory changes for the application of products labeled for agricultural use that contain dicamba in Arkansas.
Changes will prohibit the use of dicamba in Arkansas between April 16 and Oct. 31. The regulations include exemptions for the use of dicamba in pastures, rangeland, turf, ornamental, direct injection for forestry and home use.
This regulation change is now subject to final approval by the executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council.
Reuters reports an estimated 3.6 million acres of U.S. crops suffered damage linked to the herbicides this year. Monsanto and BASF SE, which also manufactures a dicamba-based weed killer, say the products are safe when properly applied.
“These new tools need to be available as choices for these growers,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, said by telephone after addressing the board at a meeting in Arkansas.
BASF said the ban would be a step backwards for Arkansas farmers.
Arkansas previously prevented farmers from using Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide in 2017 because the company did not submit studies the state wanted on volatility, or the product’s tendency to evaporate.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Monsanto provided the board with three binders of data on dicamba, Partridge said, part of a wider attempt to convince U.S. regulators its herbicide is safe.
Monsanto in September questioned the objectivity of two weed experts in Arkansas who said dicamba could drift and last month sued state officials to stop the proposed summertime ban.
Last week, the company asked the plant board to disqualify a member named Terry Fuller from considering the proposal, Reuters reported. The board allowed Fuller to participate in Wednesday’s meeting, but he recused himself from voting.
The Plant Board said in a news release Wednesday that regulatory changes concerning the use of dicamba had been subject to a 30-day public comment period, which ended on Oct 30. Over 29,000 public written comments were received by email, mail, and fax. Thirty-seven individuals provided testimony at the public hearing.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the Plant Board will host a public hearing and board meeting to consider changes to the Arkansas Pesticide Control Act Regulation, Regulations under Act 410. ACA 2-16-402 (b).
The proposed regulations would clarify the Plant Board’s ability to request additional information about a pesticide before it is registered for use in the State of Arkansas. Find details here.