LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Efforts to exempt some farmers from Arkansas’ ban of an herbicide blamed for widespread damage were challenged in state court Friday, days before the prohibition was set to take effect.
Arkansas’ attorney general asked a judge to dissolve her order exempting more than 100 farmers and farming entities from the dicamba ban, which begins Monday and runs through October 31. The state Supreme Court, in a separate case, halted another judge’s order exempting six farmers from the ban.
Arkansas’ dicamba ban was issued after the board received nearly 1,000 complaints last summer that the herbicide drifted onto crops and caused damage.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Mississippi County Circuit Judge Tonya Alexander’s restraining order against the ban was invalid, saying it didn’t state why farmers would face harm or why it was issued without giving notice to the state first. She asked for a hearing on or by Tuesday if the judge doesn’t dissolve the ban.
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Rutledge argued the farmers don’t have standing to challenge the ban and that the state is immune from being sued over the prohibition. An effort by Monsanto, one of the companies that makes dicamba, to block the ban was dismissed by a state judge earlier this year.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday stayed an earlier ruling by a Pulaski County judge that exempted six other farmers from the dicamba ban.
Rutledge’s office asked the state Supreme Court last week to stay Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s order until an appeal is heard. But attorney Grant Ballard argued that the six farmers’ herbicide use won’t be a statewide threat.
The six farmers sued the board in November after unsuccessfully contesting the April 16 cutoff date. They instead asked for a May 25 cutoff, along with other restrictions, which were rejected by the board.
Fox dismissed the farmers’ lawsuit over the ban, citing the state’s sovereign immunity. But he voided the rule for the six farmers, ruling their due process rights and right to appeal the ban had been curtailed.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com