Plant Board Update by Brad Koen 11-7-2019

The Arkansas State Plant Board has had several meetings since our last newsletter update. As you can imagine, the majority of the meeting time has been focused on the use of dicamba in the state of Arkansas. After much discussion and debate, the board voted 14-1 to keep the May 26 cutoff date for dicamba in affect for 2020. They also voted to keep a 1-mile buffer around University and USDA research stations and certified organic crops. The rule proposal was then sent to the Governor’s office for approval. The Governor approved the rule proposal, and we are currently in the 30-day public comment period. There will be a public hearing on December 11 at the Embassy Suites in West Little Rock for the plant board to hear any comments from the public. The board will then vote whether or not to send the proposed rule to the state legislative committee for final approval.
A major concern has been enforcement and fining of those who are using dicamba after the cutoff date. The Arkansas State Plant Board issued a first fine for an egregious violation in October. A grower who applied dicamba past the cut-off date on two separate occasions was fined a total of $105,000. There are other hearings expected in the upcoming months. The intent of the larger fines is to hopefully deter the illegal applications.

Plant Board Update by Brad Koen 7-5-2019

We had our quarterly Arkansas State Plant Board meeting on June 11. After a year of service, Butch Calhoun has decided to step down as the director. Butch stated that he is retiring and planning on spending more time with his family. He thanked the plant board for giving him the opportunity to serve our industry. The board decided to vote Scott Bray in as his predecessor. A group of growers petitioned the board for an extension to apply dicamba for in-crop use until May 25. After much discussion, the board voted the petition down. As of the board meeting date, there had been 17 dicamba complaints filed in the state. Corteva sent a request to the board to consider allowing Blue-Tag Pioneer branded wheat varieties 26R41, 26R45, and 26R59 for the 2019 planting season. This request is due to the lack of certified seed due to wet weather during the 2018 planting season. The board voted to allow Corteva’s request. Mary Smith and Caleb Allen gave presentations on the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Program. This a very interesting program. The potential for growers in the state remains to be seen. The hemp growers in Arkansas are battling weather just like our traditional farmers. The weather stations that the state is currently using are outdated and need several repairs. The estimated cost to get the stations back in order would be around $700,000. Instead of repairing the old stations, the board decided to go with a subscription to DTN for access to their weather stations. This subscription would allow access to 50 stations and would also allow public access to those stations via the plant board website. The plant board will have private access to DTN’s network which consists of over 3,000 stations throughout the country. This subscription will improve our data for much less investment. The 7 year outlook to subscribe with DTN would be approximately $450,000.