At Duncan Firm, we understand that the farmer's life is difficult enough when everything is going right. Farming is hard work, and most small farmers are always just a bad growing season or two away from financial catastrophe.
This life only gets tougher when issues beyond your control inhibit your ability to grow your crops. And in Arkansas, it's becoming increasingly apparent that one of the problems farmers must combat is crop damage caused by the herbicide Dicamba.
Farmers in Arkansas are pursuing lawsuits against Monsanto – Dicamba's creator and manufacturer – over crop damage related to Dicamba. Our firm's Dicamba lawyers filed suit after carefully studying these damage and are looking to connect with Arkansas farmers who have suffered crop damage due to Dicamba drifting.
If you are a farmer living near in any other Arkansas community and you've experienced crop damage as the result of Dicamba from a nearby farm using Dicamba, our lawyers want to speak to you. Please call Duncan Firm today at 877-638-6226 for a free consultation.
What is Dicamba?
For as long as human beings have been farming, weeds have proven problematic to these efforts. Every farmer knows that if weeds are left unchecked, they can choke the growth of crops and other plants. For this reason, the search for an effective way to kill weeds has been more or less permanent.
Dicamba was originally formulated for use as an herbicide in the 1940's. It's an organochloride (which essentially means it's an organic compound that contains chlorine) and a derivative of benzoic acid. Dicamba works by speeding up the growth of weeds so that the weed out-races its nutrient source and quickly dies.
However, Dicamba was not usually applied directly to crops due to its volatility, toxicity and its tendency to “drift” into surrounding fields.
That changed when weeds began growing resistant to Roundup, the most popular herbicide in the US and one of Monsanto's most important products. So Monsanto responded by genetically engineering soybeans, cotton and other crops that were resistant to Dicamba, meaning these crops could be safely sprayed with the herbicide without dying themselves.
And several companies attempted to address the problems with Dicamba by creating new versions of the herbicide that were less volatile and less prone to “drifting.” These Dicamba strains included:
- XtendiMax (manufactured by Monsanto)
- Engenia (manufactured by BASF)
- Fexapan (manufactured by DuPont)
These formulations were approved by the EPA in early 2017. However, rigorous independent testing was lacking, and it appears that these new versions of Dicamba still pose a serious danger to crops.
Why is Dicamba Controversial?
Like most herbicides, Dicamba is dangerous to human beings. It should never be ingested, and you should seek medical care immediately if Dicamba has made contact with your eyes or skin.
However, that's not why Dicamba has proven so controversial, and it's not why the state of Arkansas took the extraordinary step of banning its use in the summer of 2017. Instead, the issue, as noted above, is drifting and volatility.
Reports from Arkansas, Missouri and many other states have come in, all finding the same thing. A farmer with Dicamba-resistant genetically engineered crops sprays – or pays an independent party to spray – their crops with a Dicamba variant. At some point, the herbicide “drifts ” – that is, it carries over onto another farm and comes into contact with crops that are not resistant to Dicamba.
This drifting can devastate crops, and farmers who have been victimized in this way face the loss of tens of thousands of dollars from loss of crop yield.
The extent of this damage is staggering. Millions of acres of crops across the country have been affected by Dicamba drift with over 1 million likely lost here in Arknansas. This has also come at a time when the farmer's life is more perilous than ever.
Signs of Dicamba Damage
It's important to remember that you can't conclusively prove the effect of Dicamba on your crops just by looking at your crops. This sort of proof requires more scientific methods. However, by keeping your eye on your crops and looking out for the signs of Dicamba damage, you can spot this damage early and begin the process of finding more substantial evidence.
Here are some of the signs your crops may have been damaged by Dicamba:
- Twisted, crinkled leaves
- Leaf cupping
- Narrow leaves on the youngest growth
- Above-ground roots on the stems of some annual flowers
Monsanto and the other above-named companies deny claims that their Dicamba variants pose a danger to other crops. However, farmers in Arkansas and across the country are banding together to seek justice through class action lawsuits.
What should I Do if I Suspect Dicamba Damage?
Noticing the signs listed above is just the first step in seeking justice for the economic damage you've suffered. It's important to understand that you have legal rights, and our Arkansas Dicamba lawyers are prepared to discuss your situation and help you determine if legal action is appropriate for you.
The steps you take in the aftermath of this incident can play a significant role in determining if a future claim is successful. So if you suspect Dicamba damage, we recommend you do the following:
- Make contact with the neighboring farm where you have reason to believe Dicamba spraying occurred. Be pleasant and respectful, but communicate the situation clearly. If the farmer used a third party to spray the herbicide, ask for the applicator's contact information.
- Immediately contact the governing agricultural board in your area. In the state of Arkansas, that's the Arkansas Agricultural Department. Their phone number is 501-225-1598.
- The Agricultural Department representatives should either be able to test your crops for Dicamba exposure or recommend someone who can.
- Extensively document the crop damage. Take a lot of pictures of the affected crops – you don't need to be a master photographer, but make sure your photos are in focus and have date and time stamps.
- If at all possible, document the economic damage you've suffered with video and photos.
- Finally, call our Dicamba lawyers as soon as possible. Time is of the essence – the quicker we can begin looking into your case, the more thorough and effective our investigation will be.
In a perfect world, you'll be able to work out a compensation arrangement with the other farmer. However, this often isn't possible. In most instances, you won’t be able to receive the compensation you need through discussions with an individual farmer.
There are no guarantees in the courtroom, but many farmers in your position are filing class action lawsuits against Monsanto or the manufacturer of the specific variant in question. This might be the right course of action for you – the only way to know for sure is to discuss your case with our lawyers.
Contact our Arkansas Dicamba Lawyers
If you believe you have suffered economic damage as the result of unwanted Dicamba exposure to your crops, you should consider your legal options. The attorneys at the Duncan Firm will fight aggressively to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Please call the Duncan Firm, PA today at 877-638-6226 for a free consultation. Our firm is located in Little Rock, but we welcome cases from across the state of Arkansas.