Farmers sue board over dicamba curb

Posted: November 11, 2017 at 1:41 a.m.

Six Arkansas farmers on Friday filed a lawsuit against the state Plant Board alleging that its membership structure is unconstitutional and that its recent decision to limit the spraying of a herbicide violated state law.

The farmers are among some 350 who petitioned the board, a division of the Arkansas Agriculture Department, to set a May 25 cutoff date next year on in-crop use of dicamba, a herbicide linked to nearly 1,000 complaints of damage this summer. The board rejected that May 25 cutoff date after a public hearing on Oct. 19. Instead, the board on Wednesday voted to prohibit the in-crop use of the herbicide from April 16 to Oct. 31.

Grant Ballard, a Little Rock attorney, filed the lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court. It asks a judge for an injunction against the ban.

The lawsuit claims that the state law allowing nine of the board's 16 voting members be selected by various agriculture interests is "an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to private interests." Seven other members are appointed by the governor.

The ban approved Wednesday, the lawsuit said, was "arbitrary, capricious, and not based on substantial evidence."

A spokesman for the Agriculture Department declined comment. A similar lawsuit was filed last month by Monsanto in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Business on 11/11/2017