BASF responds to Arkansas and Missouri dicamba bans

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BASF, which markets Engenia dicamba herbicide, says Missouri and Arkansas agriculture officials’ decision to temporarily halt dicamba applications robs farmers of one of the few technologies they have to control weeds resistant to other chemistries.

The Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based chemical company recently issued a statement in response to emergency actions taken by the two states.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture issued a temporary ban on selling and applying all forms of dicamba July 7 in response to more than 140 complaints of suspected herbicide drift.

After receiving more than 500 complaints of suspected dicamba drift at the time, the Arkansas Plant Board recommended a 120-emergency prohibition on dicamba applications that took effect July 11.

Monsanto, which developed the Xtend dicamba-resistance trait in cotton and soybeans, issued a statement shortly after the Arkansas Plant Board’s initial decision June 23, saying the ban was premature. Monsanto also is the registrant of XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip technology, a DGA dicamba formulation for use with Xtend crops.

BASF markets Engenia, a BAPMA dicamba formulation also for use on Xtend crops. In January 2017, the Plant Board decided that only Engenia would be allowed for use in Arkansas this season on Xtend soybeans and XtendFlex cotton. It also set application requirements stricter than the federal label.

BASF issued this statement shortly before the Plant Board’s emergency ban became effective July 11.

By nature and tradition, growers are highly skilled at adapting to changing conditions that threaten their livelihood. Season after season, they look for ways to improve their operations and ensure the well-being of their families and the communities they serve. One of the biggest challenges facing farmers today is keeping new strains of weeds from limiting their yields. Until this year, they did not have an effective technology to help them control this problem. 

Recent actions taken in Arkansas and Missouri to ban or restrict the use of dicamba herbicides, including BASF’s Engenia, deprive farmers of the one option that has proven effective in controlling this worrisome, yield-robbing issue. These actions punish farmers who have successfully and lawfully used the product. It also fails to provide a reasonable deterrent to those who may be willing to ignore the ban or not strictly follow label instructions, which is a major culprit in a number of complaints. 

We feel a better approach would be developing a fact and science-based recommendation that focuses on a longer-term solution for farmers. We can only do so once we have further clarity on the ongoing investigations regarding crop damage attributed to dicamba. This is something we are committed to doing through partnering with the dicamba technology taskforce proposed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. We also stand ready to collaborate with the Missouri Department of Agriculture in a similar fashion. 

It has been suggested it is time for a “pause” on dicamba. Unfortunately, farmers cannot hit “pause” on the growing season and their window of opportunity to protect their yields is closing. We encourage farmers to continue to work with our field staff to address any issues they are seeing in their fields and we pledge our ongoing support of their use of this important technology.