President Trump spoke of large corn exports booked for delivery to China while assuring Iowans of “the full support of the federal government” in recovering from a derecho in a Tuesday visit. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said agriculture — flattened crops and wind-blasted farmsteads — accounts for …
Dicamba-tolerant corn seeds aren’t available yet. But if the seeds reach the market, and tens of millions more acres are sprayed with dicamba, there’s good reason to expect a repeat of the soybean disaster, in which the highly volatile weedkiller drifted off-target and damaged 5 million acres of conventional soybeans and an untold number of other crops.(No paywall)
Arkansas regulators voted on Wednesday to relax restrictions on the controversial weedkiller dicamba, despite testimony from top scientists and scores of concerned citizens who urged them to reject the move in a public hearing. (No paywall)
A federal appeals court on the West Coast dismissed as moot a lawsuit by environmentalists to overturn the EPA's 2016 approval of the weedkiller dicamba. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the environmental groups could try again with a challenge to EPA's reapproval of the herbicide last November. (No paywall)
The Arkansas State Plant Board voted to roll back restrictions on the drift-prone herbicide dicamba late last week, over the objections of a coalition of sustainable agriculture and conservation groups. The board denied, without a hearing, an organic farmer’s petition to uphold the restrictions.
A new investigation by FERN and Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Journalism, shows that the EPA "ignored scientists’ warnings and extensive research that showed dicamba would evaporate into the air and ruin crops miles away, according to documents obtained through public records requests and lawsuits. Instead, the EPA’s approval was based on studies by the companies that manufacture dicamba, which independent scientists say were seriously flawed." (No paywall)
North Carolina’s sweet potato farmers, already facing lower prices for their crop, were dealt a powerful second blow in September, when Hurricane Florence flooded the state’s top sweet potato-producing counties.
Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina at harvest time and caused agricultural losses of $1.1 billion, almost all of it in row crops, said the state Agriculture Department on Wednesday.
A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in St. Louis says Monsanto and BASF genetically engineered dicamba-resistant crops knowing the weedkiller was likely to harm neighboring crops, and that "everything they did and failed to do increased the risk," reports Harvest Public Media.
The world's largest seed and ag-chemical company, Monsanto, says it is considering its options after a court dismissed its lawsuit challenging the Arkansas ban of its weedkiller dicamba on row crops during the growing season, said the Associated Press. "Arkansas has the toughest restriction in place on dicamba, though several states have imposed other restrictions or requirements."
The USDA will begin tests in Texas and Alabama of a toxic sodium nitrate bait to kill feral swine, said USDA's Wildlife Services, which combats invasive animals. More than 6 million wild pigs roam parts of at least 35 states and cause an estimated $190 million in crop damage annually, says the USDA.
Monsanto is fighting back as agricultural scientists accuse the company of misleading farmers about the safety of its weedkiller dicamba. The chemical has been blamed for millions of dollars in crop damage this year.
A Monsanto executive "acknowledged the company misjudged the timeline" for EPA approval of its lower-volatility formulation of the weedkiller dicamba in 2016, reports Reuters. The result was that some farmers, worried about invasive weeds, planted Monsanto's new dicamba-tolerant soybean seeds and used older versions of dicamba, blamed for damage to neighboring fields.
Following an explosion of complaints about crop damage by the weedkiller dicamba, the EPA strengthened its rules for spraying the herbicide onto genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The new guidelines require special training of applicators before they can spray dicamba, limit the time of day when it can be used and bar spraying when winds exceed 10 miles an hour, a reduction from the 15 mph limit this year.
State officials in Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee have received hundreds of complaints blaming the weedkiller dicamba for damage to oak trees this summer, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Usage of dicamba — and complaints of crop damage — has increased with the release of soybean and cotton varieties genetically modified to tolerate doses of the chemical.
The dicamba "issue" — widespread reports of crop damage from using the weedkiller — "isn't going away, in fact it's only getting worse," said Ron Moore, the American Soybean Association president and an Illinois farmer. "We are committed to establishing both a cause and a path forward ... including what actions need to be taken to assure that soybean farmers can use the product safely without damaging their own or their neighbors’ crops."
Three federal workers were injured in the collision of a semi-truck and another vehicle in a motorcade carrying Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on a tour of hurricane damage on the Texas Gulf Coast, said the Texas Tribune. Perdue, who was in another vehicle with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway, was not injured.
Florida, the No. 1 citrus-growing state in the nation, suffered "serious and devastating losses from Hurricane Irma," said state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam after an aerial tour of groves in central and southwest Florida. The harvest season for oranges and grapefruit normally begins in October, so the storm arrived as the fruit was nearing maturity.