Dicamba Herbicide Drift
Breaking news: Bayer and BASF must pay a $265 million jury verdict to a Missouri farmer for dicamba crop damage. Zimmerman Reed is a member of the trial team that helped to get the farmer that result.
Farmers are reporting that the herbicide dicamba stunted the growth of their crops as a result of its application on nearby fields. We are privileged to be representing several farmers asking Monsanto to compensate them for the damage caused by its dicamba herbicide. If you are a farmer whose crops were damaged by drifting dicamba, we can help you understand your legal options. Call us at 1.800.887.8029 or submit an inquiry form to learn more.
The dicamba lawsuits have been centralized into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Missouri in front of the honorable Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. When multiple lawsuits are filed alleging similar damages stemming from the same conduct, it is common for the cases to be consolidated into an MDL to conserve resources and coordinate efforts, saving the parties time and money. Zimmerman Reed partner, Hart Robinovitch, was appointed by the Court to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee to help lead the litigation against Monsanto.
In 2016, Bader Farms filed a lawsuit against Monsanto and BASF, alleging the two powerhouses had full knowledge that the dicamba solution would be abused prior to launching the technology but failed to warn farmers. Bader Farms alleged dicamba damage across 7,000 affected peach trees. Since then, many more farmers have challenged these large agribusinesses to recover financial losses sustained due to crop damage. Zimmerman Reed also filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cow-Mil farms – a cotton and soybean farm that has been in operation for thirty years – when during the 2016 growing season they experienced a 40% reduction in its soybean production due to neighboring farmers using dicamba.
Farmers further allege that Monsanto and other agribusinesses benefit from the drift by forcing farmers to adopt dicamba-tolerant seeds to ensure their crops aren’t damaged. University of Missouri Professor Kevin Bradley reported that, in this summer alone, more than 3.6 million acres of soybeans have been damaged across the country as well as many acres of fruit and vegetable farms, vineyards, forests, and other plants. The drift has been alleged to have compromised critical wildlife habitat and crippled many farms.
What is Dicamba?
Dicamba, a growth regulating herbicide, is selectively used against invasive broadleaf plants such as Palmer amaranth, more commonly known as pigweed. Pigweed is a common nuisance in the farming industry, and soybeans in particular are taking the brunt of the infestation. Many farmers have turned to herbicides like dicamba to control the spread of these noxious weeds. Dicamba is a volatile herbicide, meaning it vaporizes and spreads beyond the fields where it is initially sprayed. This volatilization is what farmers claim is harming their crops.
Brand names for dicamba include:
The three largest distributors of products containing dicamba in the United States are BASF, DuPont, and Monsanto.
Variations of dicamba were given regulatory approval by the Environmental Protection Agency based on a claimed lower volatility rate than prior technologies. Despite the new formula having reduced volatility, experts cannot unequivocally say the formula will prevent the spread of dicamba to neighboring crops. Moreover, while some farmers awaited the approval of this new formula, the higher-volatility herbicide was nonetheless used to combat noxious weeds in the agricultural industry. The illicit application of dicamba and the wide-spread damage to crops has not gone unnoticed; by July 2017, National Public Radio reported that there are over 500 complaints filed by farmers residing in Arkansas alone. Many states have also taken an active role in regulating the chemical by banning its application and use in agriculture.
What does Dicamba Damage look like?
Damage is widespread and as harvest time approaches, the full scope of the damage will come to light. Crop damage usually appears within days of the application of the dicamba herbicide, but some damage can take weeks to appear. Symptoms of dicamba damage from volatilization and drift can include:
- Twisted leaves
- Downward cupping on leaves
- Narrow leaves on newest growth of the plant
In the News
- StarTribune, “Weed killer dicamba faces multiple lawsuits” (March 27, 2018)
- MPR, “Minnesota Farmers’ Harvest Hit Hard By Drifting Weed Killer” (November 13, 2017)
- Reuters, “Monsanto, BASF weed killers strain U.S. states with damage complaints” (November 1, 2017)
- Post Bulletin, “Complaints soar about weed killer damage to soybeans” (October 11, 2017)
- IowaWatch, “Complaints Surge About Weed Killer Dicamba’s Damage to Oak Trees” (October 11, 2017)
- NPR, “A Wayward Weedkiller Divides Farm Communities, Harms Wildlife” (October 7, 2017)
- MotherJones, “Farmers Say Dicamba Drifted From Nearby Farms and Killed Their Crops” (October 5, 2017)
- Delta FarmPress, “Might dicamba be affecting pollinators?” (September 26, 2017)
- NPR, “Arkansas Poised To Ban Most Use of Monsanto Herbicide” (September 22, 2017)
- Reuters, “Scant oversight, corporate secrecy preceded U.S. weed killer crisis” (August 9, 2017)
- Bloomberg, “Pesticide ‘Drifting’ Wreaks Havoc Across U.S. Crops” (August 1, 2017)
How we can help
Farmers are not insured for any damages caused by dicamba, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. If you are a farmer whose crops were damaged by drifting dicamba, you may be entitled to a claim. If you would like more information, or would just like to talk to our team, please fill out our free case evaluation or call us at 1.800.887.8029 to learn more. Zimmerman Reed has more than 30 years of holding companies accountable and we want to help you.