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agriculture

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have approved banning an herbicide that farmers say has drifted onto crops where it wasn't applied and caused damage, but the prohibition still faces a legal challenge from a maker of the weed killer.

The Legislative Council on Friday without discussion approved the Plant Board's plan to ban dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. A subcommittee earlier this week recommended the council, the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session, approve the proposal.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is visiting Arkansas to hold a roundtable discussion with the state's governor and to meet with farmers.

Perdue is participating in a roundtable lunch with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state's agriculture leaders at the governor's mansion on Friday. The event will include a question-and-answer session moderated by state Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward.

Perdue is also scheduled to tour a farm in England in Lonoke County on Friday afternoon.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers recommended regulators move forward Tuesday with efforts to ban an herbicide that farmers in several states say has drifted onto their crops and caused damage, advancing the prohibition despite a lawsuit by a maker of the weed killer.

A legislative subcommittee supported the state Plant Board's proposal to ban the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. The proposed ban is scheduled to go before the Legislative Council, the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session, for a final vote on Friday.

A dispute is brewing between Arkansas’s rice industry and makers of other products over ownership of the word “rice” and the right to market foods as such.

“It is a grain, not a shape,” said Lauren Waldrip Ward with the Arkansas Rice Federation.

Ward and others are asking Arkansas’ federal delegation for some help in appealing to the Food and Drug Administration to restrict the use of the words "rice" and "riced" on products that do not contain grains.

Ward said rice is a significant sector of the Arkansas economy, with some 2,500 rice farms contributing billions to the state economy every year and supporting about 25,000 jobs, including many in the state’s most rural areas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Fish farmers in Arkansas now have federal permits that allow them to kill a limited number of double-crested cormorants as the birds flee the ice and snow of the Great Lakes area.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently resumed issuing such permits to operators and employees of fish farms in several states, including Arkansas. It set the total kill limit in the state at about 6,600 birds through April.

The Arkansas Plant Board has doubled down on its plan to ban Dicamba, the agricultural weed killer. The vote Wednesday was a slight rebuke of state Rep. Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs) and colleagues on a legislative subcommittee that last month asked the board to reconsider the ban, specifically the April 15 cutoff date for spraying Monsanto’s controversial herbicide.

 

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The Arkansas State Plant Board will hold a special meeting Wednesday (Jan. 3) in Little Rock to discuss potential regulation changes for the use of the herbicide dicamba during the 2018 growing season.

ASPB had proposed to ban the controversial weed killer for the season, but the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee decided Dec. 12 to hold the rule change to allow ASPB to possibly modify it before a final decision is rendered.

Tiny Ips beetles, about the size of a grain of rice, are posing a risk to pine forests in southwest Arkansas. The state Department of Agriculture is advising landowners to survey property, contact foresters, and consider clear cutting infested trees. Forest Health Specialist Chandler Barton, with the state Forestry Commission, says extreme drought levels are weakening trees and making them susceptible to insects and disease.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Monsanto has asked a judge to prevent Arkansas lawmakers from banning the use of a weed killer that farmers in several states have said drifts onto their crops and causes widespread damage.

The Missouri-based agribusiness asked a Pulaski County judge to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the state from banning dicamba's use while the company challenges a prohibition approved by the Arkansas Plant Board last month.

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The last step in banning dicamba during the bulk of the 2018 growing season and a significant increase to the fines for farmers who use it illegally will be decided by Arkansas legislative committees during the next week.

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HUMBOLDT, Tenn. (AP) - Tyson Foods Inc. says it plans to build a new chicken production complex in Tennessee, a $300 million project that is expected to create more than 1,500 jobs when the facility begins operations in late 2019.

The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said Monday that the new plant in Humboldt, about 85 miles northeast of Memphis, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide. The company says it will help it meet strong consumer demand for its chicken.

Soy has been widely accepted as a heart-healthy food for nearly two decades.  Manufacturers of packaged food products have claimed that soy protein reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, and labeled their products thusly.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t so sure and is seeking an unprecedented revocation of the authorized claim.  With an authorized claim, manufacturers get a stamp of approval from the FDA to directly state a health benefit — calcium, for instant, helps stymie osteoporosis.

The agency said a review of evidence linking soy protein to improved heart health wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant an authorized claim. 

Douglas Balentine, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, said studies have evolved since the authorized claim for soy's heart benefits was approved in 1999.

Arkansas soybean farmers who rely on a chemical called Dicamba to kill weeds must stop using it during the growing season next year. That’s because it has allegedly been drifting to neighboring farms and killing crops.

On the eve of a major decision by the state over the controversial weed killer dicamba, tensions are running high in Arkansas’s farming communities.

“This is probably the most divisive the agricultural community has ever been,” said Shawn Peebles, an organic farmer in Augusta. 

Peebles said he hasn’t personally sustained damage from dicamba drift but he is experiencing issues with companies no longer wanting to do business with Arkansas growers due to concerns about residue from the weed killer.  

The Saint Louis-based company that makes dicamba is responding to a proposed ban on the high-tech weed killer for the 2018 growing season.

Ty Vaughn, global regulatory vice president for Monsanto, said the company is disappointed and troubled by a vote from the state plant board to pursue a ban on farm applications of dicamba after April 15.  Vaughn said dicamba is being used successfully in other states.

“We’ve seen growers in 33 states over the past year have really good success with our system.  Our main goal here is to allow growers in Arkansas to have the same access,” said Vaughn.

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