On March 3, the Arkansas State Plant Board voted 8-7 to loosen dicamba regulations for this crop season, scrapping the May 25 cutoff date on spraying the herbicide and removing 1-mile buffer protections for specialty crops and university research farms. Since 2017, they had been placing tighter restrictions on top of federal regulations in response to complaints of off-target damage to senstive crops, home gardens, and natural areas. The board's vote was prompted by the filing of a "petition for rulemaking," or request to reconsider the restrictions and instead follow only federal guidelines.
The regulation change requires a 30-day public comment period, followed by a public hearing. Restrictions could be restored at that time. Public input, especially from farmers and homeowners directly affected by dicamba will be crucial. Audubon will announce when and how to submit comments.