Audubon believes that working lands can work for birds and people. But the increasing use of dicamba will put birds at risk in our agricultural landscape. Dicamba is an herbicide, the use of which is going to skyrocket because Monsanto is pushing its soybean and cotton varieties that have been genetically modified to be resistant. Dicamba's volatility means it can do damage to non-GMO crops and native plants far beyond where applied.
Support our campaign to monitor public lands for signs of dicamba damage. Click here to donate! The Arkansas State Plant Board messed up big time when they approved extending dicamba use to May 25 at their February 20 public hearing. They ignored the science, ignored public input, and didn't follow proper procedure. We're developing a community science campaign to document damage to vegetation on public lands and need your support to do so.
After receiving over 1,000 complaints about damage to crops, trees, and more, the Plant Board instituted an emergency ban on the growing season use of dicamba. In 2017, Governor Hutchinson's convened an 18-member task force representing a cross-section of those most affected by the issues surrounding dicamba use. After examining all sides of the issue and hearing from a variety of experts and stakeholders, the task force came to a consensus that the cutoff date for the in-crop use of dicamba in Arkansas should be April 15. They decided this issue should be revisited for the 2019 growing season after more research has been done.
Research conducted by the University of Arkansas shows that the new dicamba formulations are volatile—the product can move off target in all directions, damaging 1.5-times more acres than are treated. The high temperatures and humidity we experience in Arkansas’ warmer months can dramatically increase volatility and thus collateral damage. Damage has already been documented to non-resistant crops, honeybee production, nearby trees, duck food, and native plants and pollinators. In a landscape full of GMO crops, the build-up of volatile dicamba could be enough to damage our state natural areas, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, family farms, and the wildlife they harbor.
Despite the scientific evidence, the Arkansas State Plant Board voted on December 6, 2018, to extend the cutoff date and allow dicamba use to May 21. Governor Hutchinson approved their proposal. This started a 30-day public comment period, which closed Feb. 5. At a public hearing on February 20, to our shock and dismay, the Plant Board voted to advance the cutoff date even further into the growing season, to May 21, and to cut back buffer widths and make other changes that were not in the original proposal the public commented on. Following that Audubon and our advocates contacted legislators who review state agency rule changes. We made the case the Plant Board did not follow proper procedures nor their mission. Despite tough questioning of Plant Board staff, approval was granted and the rule change became law. Thank you to everyone who contacted the Plant Board, Governor, and legislators. We fought the good fight, but we're not necessarily through yet.
Help us fight dicamba!
Dickcissels breed in agricultural fields. Photo: Matt Stephenson
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