2020 continues to be a challenging year for all of us. The Arkansas State Plant Board meeting schedule is no exception to this challenge. The board met on Wednesday, December 2. Under the current pandemic situation, we once again met virtually by way of Zoom. As you can imagine the meeting was dominated by the dicamba discussion.
Just to catch everyone up, on October 27, the EPA announced the reregistration of three dicamba products for over-the-top use for cotton and soybeans. The registrations for Xtendimax, Engenia, and Tavium will be a 5-year registration starting in 2021. The registrants were able to answer the concerns that enabled the EPA to reregister the products. With this approval there are some changes to the label that must be followed before it can be used legally:
- Downwind buffer requirements of 240 feet and a buffer of 310 feet where listed species are located.
- An approved pH-buffering agent to be mixed with OTT dicamba to lower volatility.
- A nationwide cutoff date of June 30 for soybeans and July 30 for Cotton.
- Use of hooded sprayer technology to reduce buffer requirements.
- Ability of states to expand use to meet local needs by working with EPA.
The state Arkansas currently has a dicamba cutoff date of May 25, and it is illegal to mix glyphosate in the tank with the labeled dicamba products. With the new approved pH buffering agents, the volatility of the glyphosate/dicamba tank mixes compares to that of the lower volatile formulations of dicamba. At our plant board meeting, we heard presentations from BASF and from the University of Arkansas that showed promising results from the volatility reducing agents (VRA’s). After much discussion there was a motion made to extend the cutoff date to June 15 and to allow the mixture of approved glyphosate and dicamba formulations. The board was split on this vote, so the vote failed. Another motion was made to keep the 2020 restriction in place but to follow the federal restrictions inside the Mississippi River levee (June 30 cutoff on soybeans and July 30 cutoff on cotton) by permit only. This motion passed. Since the motion made changes to our current regulations, we are forced to give the public 30 days for comments. The changes have been passed on to the Secretary of Ag and he will send it on to the Governor for approval.
I have also stayed active in the Southern Crop Production Association this year. The pandemic kept us from making our trip to Washington D.C. this year to lobby for our industry. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is critical to our industry’s efforts to bring products to market and is sound legislative policy. Using a risk-based approach to evaluate the registration of chemistries is critical to registrants and producers now and in future decisions. The state of Arkansas’ stance on dicamba offers up some challenges for our representatives when it comes to defending our industry. These challenges will continue to get tougher as many groups are targeting the removal of all of our pesticides.