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To the Editor:
I have worked as a weed scientist in Arkansas for nearly 50 years -- first as a University of Arkansas Extension Weed Scientist, and for the past 19 years in the private sector. I have been involved in some way with nearly every herbicide and weed control technology developed since the 1970's, and am honored to be a member of the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame. I've dedicated my professional life to studying and identifying helpful solutions to weed problems experienced by farmers.
The Xtend crops, cotton and soybean, and the use of dicamba herbicide in these crops have created the most unique and controversial situation I have witnessed in my career. On one hand, dicamba herbicide has offered cotton and soybean growers an additional option for controlling glyphosate-resistant driver weeds, primarily Palmer amaranth in the Southern states and common waterhemp in the Midwestern and Northern states. This has made the Xtend technology and dicamba herbicide a popular option across a large segment of growers. On the other hand, dicamba has the propensity to move off-target due to volatility, and drift; a fact that was well known prior to the introduction of the technology. This has resulted in widespread damage to millions of acres of soybeans and a wide array of other sensitive crops and plants since the introduction of the Xtend technology. As an example, the annual number of off-target dicamba complaints on non-Xtend soybean has far exceeded previous records for all herbicides -- combined -- in most states where the Xtend technology has been widely utilized.
The high numbers of off-target dicamba complaints on soybean have left a lot of growers frustrated and asking a lot of questions about how they can obtain compensation for yield loss caused by off-target movement of dicamba onto their soybean fields without having to sue their neighbors or incur the burden and expense of litigation against a large company like Monsanto. I continue to receive numerous calls from growers or their representatives in various states regarding this issue. I am happy to report that a settlement with Monsanto has been reached that provides up to $300 million in compensation to soybean farmers for these yield losses. The settlement is open to all soybean growers who have suffered dicamba injury and resulting yield loss, in the years 2015-2020, and have appropriate records to support their claim. The settlement provides multiple acceptable options for soybean farmers to document their dicamba injury and yield loss. All of this is specified in some detail on the settlement website (https://www.dicambasoybeansettlement.com/…).
I want soybean farmers who have been hurt by off-target movement of dicamba to at least know that this money is available to provide compensation. To me, this settlement seems like an excellent way for those soybean growers to receive fair compensation without having to sue their neighbors or enter into lengthy and costly litigation against Monsanto or other seed or herbicide companies.
Any grower wishing to file a claim must do so before May 28, 2021, and has the option of using an attorney or submitting a claim on their own. Again, these details are covered in the settlement. If you suffered a yield loss due to off-target movement of dicamba, I would encourage you to at least go to the website, email the claims administrator, or call the toll-free number -- contact information provided below. That is what this fund has been set up for.
The email address is: info@DicambaSoybeanSettlement.com
The toll-free number is 1-855-914-4672. Call Center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday-Friday except holidays.
-- Ford Baldwin, Ph.D.
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