The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to walk back Obama-era rules concerning waters of the United States as they define “navigable waters.”

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The federal WOTUS has implications for nearly every operation, as do rules over the application of chemicals.  

In Arkansas, state officials are setting policy being watched across farm country when it comes to drift.

Colleen Bradford Krantz reports.

An Arkansas legislative committee this week approved a ban on post-emergent use of dicamba herbicide. The emergency measure lasts for 120 days.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had approved the plan last week after it was sent to him by the Arkansas State Plant Board, which has now recorded more than 540 complaints. These landowners report crop damage they associate with neighboring farmers’ use of dicamba.

The ban may cause problem for farmers who planted the new dicamba-tolerant Xtend soybeans and cotton, although most may have sprayed weeds in advance of the possible ban.

BASF’s Engenia was the only brand of dicamba approved in Arkansas for use during the growing season. Company officials have said they believe many of the problems stem from farmers’ failure to carefully follow label directions, which suggest applying only in winds between 3 and 10 miles per hour.

Gov. Hutchinson wrote that while he realized making a change during the growing season is less than ideal, the volume of complaints and the plant board’s concerns justified the emergency measure. He asked the state’s agriculture department and plant board to set up a task force to make long-term recommendations related to dicamba use.

Arkansas state officials also agreed to move up the penalties of $1,000 to $25,000 for those responsible for off-target applications that damage others’ crops. 

Certain dicamba brands, including BASF’s Engenia, will still be allowed for “burn-down” use in Arkansas fields or pastures between September 15 and April 15.