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No complacency about herbicide drift

Although we have had a much better year with glyphosate drift, I am still getting occasional calls to look at rice fields that have been hit with a drift late in the season.

Consistent with what we usually see from rice that has been hit in the reproductive growth stages, the yields will be drastically affected.

In my column last week, I expressed optimism that the Arkansas glyphosate task force recommendations that were tabled earlier in the year — at least those regarding education — would move forward. Apparently I was prematurely optimistic.

I am not disappointed that no further glyphosate regulations were implemented at the recent meeting of the pesticide committee of the Arkansas State Plant Board. I am disappointed, however, that a more defined plan for education, and funding to pay for it, did not come out of the meeting. I will take education over regulation any day.

We have had a much better year this year, but we do not need everyone to start patting themselves on the back and complacency to set in after only one year. We need a well-planned, well-funded, and well-executed educational program to keep moving forward.

In addition to the glyphosate complaints being down dramatically, there have also been very few 2,4-D complaints. This is a good thing. I do not wish to see 2,4-D symptoms in any cotton field in Arkansas.

However, in some ways the regulation changes put into place this year were overkill. I had to deal with a lot of frustrated farmers on the west side of Crowley’s Ridge who could not have hurt a field of cotton with 2,4-D if they had tried. The only way to move 2,4-D from the west side of the ridge to the east is to apply large volumes of spray during inversion conditions. A ban, in effect, keeps this from happening, but it also fixes a lot of things that were not broken.

I believe the implemented regulations merit a review in some parts of the affected area — especially when it comes to levee spraying.

I am hearing nothing but good reports from the field on rice yields. As I stated in several previous articles, the rice crop looked very good. Apparently it is cutting as good as or even better than it looked.

All we need now is for prices to move in the upward direction. I hope to see nothing but smiling farmers over the winter.

It is interesting that I recently received a letter encouraging me to sign up in the LibertyLink lawsuit. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel when they got to me since I do not have any rice. I have said all along that when the dust settles, if there is any real money made from the lawsuits, it will be the lawyers who make it.

The LibertyLink situation is unfortunate and some people lost money because of it. It has been a burden to for the entire rice industry. However, it will be interesting to see where blame is finally placed if anywhere.

My letter stated that Bayer CropScience negligently allowed LL601 and LL604 to commingle with non-genetically modified rice. The attorneys have to believe that or there is no lawsuit. It will be interesting to see if this is proven. I do not know whether they did or did not.

There are guidelines in place for the development of genetically modified crops. USDA/AHIS was to conduct an investigation on how the genetic material got into the non-genetically modified rice. A report on that subject would sure clear up a lot of speculation and uncertainty.

Perhaps all of the lawsuits that have been filed will properly award money to people who lost money. On the other hand, perhaps all they will do is set technology development in U.S. rice back indefinitely.

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