Lamson, Dugan and Murray, LLP, Attorneys at Law

Turning Friends into Foes: Legal Fallout from Monsanto’s Dicamba

Posted in Biotechnology, Crop Damage Claims, Government Regulations

Monsanto’s dicamba has turned friendly neighbors into legal foes due to crops damaged by dicamba’s inability to stay where it is supposed to be.   With the soybean harvest basically complete, we are seeing more and more claims filed and litigation initiated.  Farmers are calculating the effect that dicamba applied by a neighbor may have had on their fields.

States like Arkansas, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Tennessee and Indiana are trying to get ahead of potential damage in next year’s soybean crops by implementing increased limitations and training for applying dicamba.  The Arkansas State Plant Board decided to bar dicamba and implemented tougher restrictions on other weed killers for next year after receiving reports of over 900,000 acres damaged by the weed killer.

Although able to control tough weeds when applied to dicamba resistant crops, dicamba also is known for evaporating after application, creating a mist which can spread to neighboring crops that may not be dicamba resistant.  New formulations of dicamba are being introduced and Monsanto has agreed to training applicators on applying dicamba only in the proper conditions to limit the evaporating effect.  However, Arkansas’s Plant Board believes more research and even tighter restrictions may be necessary.

Monsanto and farmers who apply dicamba on dicamba resistant soybeans filed suit against the Arkansas State Plant Board claiming dicamba was being governed by an unfair standard.  Approximately 25 million dicamba resistant crops were planted in 2017 with a two-fold increase expected next year.  Accordingly, dicamba and the dicamba resistant crops are large profit makers for Monsanto who obviously wants to protect and offer to Arkansas farmers.  Farmers who plant the dicamba resistant crops want access to the weed killer to help control weeds that other herbicides fail to control.  Both claim that the Arkansas Plant Board has overstepped their authority and are preventing Arkansas farmers a technological advantage that farmers in other states possess.

On the flip side, farmers who have been damaged by the dicamba drift are left with no alternative but to seek their own legal remedies for yield loss; turning friends into foes.

 

Leave a Reply