Arkansas panel will look at herbicide problems

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A task force will look at an herbicide that was temporarily banned by the state after hundreds of complaints from farmers who say it damaged their crops.

The Agriculture Department on Monday announced the 19 members who will serve on the task force to review dicamba, investigate problems with its use and make long term recommendations. The panel will hold its first meeting on Aug. 17.

Dicamba is a relatively inexpensive weed killer, but can drift and damage nearby row crops such as soybeans and cotton in addition to fruit and vegetable farms and ornamental trees. Arkansas has temporarily banned its sale and use. The Plant Board received more than 845 complaints this year about dicamba's use.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture last month lifted a temporary ban on the use and sale of agricultural products that contain dicamba. The department said it's satisfied by new safeguards involving the chemical.

Missouri issued the ban after receiving more than 130 complaints that the chemical had drifted onto farm land, damaging thousands of acres of crops. The order for Xtendimax, Engenia and FeXapan herbicides was lifted after special provisions and safeguards for using the technology were developed and approved with the herbicide makers' cooperation.

Farmers complain that illegal spraying of dicamba drifts and damages crops that have not been genetically altered to tolerate it. Soybeans are particularly sensitive to dicamba, but complaints have also involved cotton, peaches, tomatoes and melons in Missouri.

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