LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas Plant Board committee recommended that the state allow farmers to use the herbicide dicamba next year, but extend protections to prevent the weed killer from drifting and damaging crops.
The board’s pesticide committee voted Monday to allow in-crop use of dicamba from Jan. 1 to June 15, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The group also recommended extending buffer zones for crops and other vegetation sensitive to the herbicide. Buffer zones, either a quarter-mile or 1 mile long, would vary based on certain times of year and proximity to particular areas.
The committee’s recommendations will now go before the full board, which will consider the issue Dec. 6.
The move comes after Arkansas banned the spraying of dicamba this year following complaints of crop damage in 2017.
The ban sharply divided farmers across the state. Some petitioned to lift the ban, saying that the herbicide is essential to halt the spread of pigweed, which has become resistant to other herbicides. But critics have said the herbicide often drifts after spraying, which can threaten nearby vegetation and ecosystems.
The Environmental Protection Agency ruled last month to allow the herbicide’s use on soybeans and cotton for the next two years, approving dicamba formulations by Bayer BASF and DowDuPont. The EPA also added new restrictions that all applicators must be certified to spray the herbicide.
The state’s Plant Board is still reviewing the use of dicamba in Arkansas. Once a decision is made, the issue will move to a public comment period.