KASU

Monsanto

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.

Arkansas legislators on Friday allowed a prohibition on the sale and use of dicamba to take effect. The Executive Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council took no action on the proposed 120-day ban, a decision that upholds a ruling made last month by the Arkansas Plant Board. The ban will officially go into effect Tuesday at 12:01am unless members of the council move to reverse it.

Two weeks ago, in a remarkable move, the State Plant Board of Arkansas voted to ban the sale and use of a weedkiller called dicamba. It took that action after a wave of complaints about dicamba drifting into neighboring fields and damaging other crops, especially soybeans.

That ban is still waiting to go into force. It requires approval from a committee of the state legislature, which will meet on Friday.

When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes.

He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected.