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State Plant Board's new rule on dicamba temporarily blocked

by Stephen Steed | May 22, 2021 at 1:45 a.m.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan Welch late Friday afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against the state Plant Board's new rule on the use of dicamba.

Welch also set a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Monday to consider a preliminary injunction requested by a group of farmers and environmentalists. The temporary order expires at 3 p.m. Monday.

Also Friday, in a similar lawsuit, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy D. Fox set a hearing for 9 a.m. Tuesday to consider a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requested by Ozark Mountain Poultry and the Freedom to Farm Group.

Both lawsuits allege legal flaws in the board's compliance with the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the operations of state boards and commissions, in its adoption of the new rule.

The Plant Board's new rule allowing the use of in-crop dicamba through June 30 took effect about two weeks ago. Farmers had May 25 cutoffs for the 2019 and 2020 crop seasons.

Welch's order was filed at 4:08 p.m. Friday. He wrote that he entered it without notice because he found that spraying dicamba past Tuesday -- the date of previous cutoffs -- threatened farmers' crops, especially those who grow non-GMO soybeans. Ozark Mountain Poultry's buys non-GMO soybeans from farmers to turn into feed.

The lawsuit before Welch is 60CV-21-2843. The lawsuit in Fox's court is 60CV-21-2965.

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