It’s been a busy couple of weeks for crop protection products containing glyphosate and dicamba. First, in late June, the state of California announced it start listing glyphosate on its list of potentially cancerous chemicals. If this decision stands, any products sold within California will have to carry a warning label as of July 7, 2018.
Then, earlier this week, the House and Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development for the state of Arkansas upheld an emergency ban on the sale and use of dicamba-based products in the state for 120 days. This followed similar proposals by the Arkansas State Plant Board and Governor Asa Hutchinson after more than 600 growers in the state filed complaints about crop damage due to dicamba product drift. At presstime, Missouri had announced its own statewide ban on dicamba use.
In all three of these cases, the stakes for agriculture are extremely high. While each decision currently only impacts a trio of states, other state legislatures are undoubtedly watching these moves and perhaps considering a few of their own, if they believe it is merited.
In the case of the glyphosate listing in California, Monsanto has already said the company plans to fight the decision in court. “This is not the final step in the process,” wrote Scott Partridge, Vice President of Global Strategy for the company, in a released statement. “We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision.”
As for the Arkansas and Missouri dicamba bans, most experts point out that little can probably be done for 2017, as the 120-day ban goes through all of the summer months. As of July 11, $1,000 fines will be imposed on Arkansas growers found using such products in their fields. On August 1, these increase to $25,000.
But some market watchers are already reporting that supposed dicamba drift issues are on the rise in Arkansas’ neighboring states, including Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri, with the total area of damaged crops reaching 2 million acres. Now that Missouri has decided to follow Arkansas’ example, the battle for dicamba-tolerant crop use could just be beginning . . .