Dicamba is a highly volatile herbicide that tends to drift from its origin to surrounding areas, damaging farmland in the process. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, more than 1,100 herbicide products contain dicamba. Dicamba’s brand names include FeXapan (by DuPont), Engenia (by BASF), and XtendiMax (a relatively new formulation by Bayer’s Monsanto).
Monsanto’s XtendiMax proved harmful shortly after it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The herbicide damaged approximately 3.6 million acres of off-target crops across more than 20 states in 2017 alone. This caused tremendous yield loss for farmers across America.
In light of extensive crop damage, many farmers have filed lawsuits to hold manufacturers like Bayer, DuPont, and BASF accountable and recover compensation for their losses.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DICAMBA
Due to its high volatility, dicamba was not approved for use on crops until fairly recently. Monsanto’s Roundup has been the pesticide of choice for several decades—approximately 90% of all U.S. soy, cotton, and corn plants are glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops, or they’re Roundup-resistant.
More than two-thirds of all the farm acres in America harbor glyphosate-resistant superweeds. To address this issue, Monsanto invented new GMO crops that are resistant to both Roundup and dicamba. These crops were introduced to the market during the 2016 growing season, before any dicamba formulation received approval for on-crop applications. This led to widespread illegal spraying of older dicamba formulations.
The resulting drift led to massive crop yield losses. More than 200,000 acres in Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee were damaged by dicamba in 2017. The damage in the following year dwarfed that acreage and led to restrictions in several states. Farmers have filed hundreds of complaints about dicamba in at least 21 states. Arkansas voted to restrict its use for 120 days, and later banned the herbicide.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) approval of dicamba for on-crop use was contingent on reformulating the herbicide to eliminate its volatility and propensity to drift. A new formulation of dicamba made by Monsanto (called XtendiMax) was approved in November 2016, and a second formulation made by German chemical company BASF (called Engenia) was approved in December 2016.
These new dicamba formulations were supposed to be safer and less prone to drift than older versions, but they weren’t.
DICAMBA MISUSE COMPLAINTS PILE UP
If the newly-approved dicamba formulations had succeeded in reducing volatility, we would not have seen widespread damage to dicamba-vulnerable crops. But we have.
There have been reports of dicamba damaging crops in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. According to one estimate, more than 3.6 million acres of plants were damaged by dicamba in 2017 alone.
Trees are also suffering dicamba damage. Weakened, dead, or dying trees have been showing up in orchards—causing damage to fruit—as well as in parks and on residential neighborhood sidewalks. According to some experts, dicamba has done more damage in recent years than even the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, an invasive pest species that has killed millions of trees across 25 states.
In early summer 2020, farmers were very concerned about continued dicamba damage, and many were projecting serious financial losses because of the herbicide.
FARMERS FILE DICAMBA LAWSUITS
Farmers across America have filed lawsuits seeking restitution for the damage done to their crops. These lawsuits are aimed at herbicide manufacturers such as Monsanto.
In November 2017, attorney Rene Rocha filed a motion to consolidate dicamba lawsuits into a multi-district litigation (MDL). The motion was approved in February 2018.
In June 2020, after years of negotiation, Bayer-Monsanto agreed to pay $400 million to settle claims that dicamba drift had damaged millions of acres of crops. The settlement provided swift financial relief for many farmers whose livelihoods had been affected by the manufacturer’s actions.
If you suffered crop damage and financial losses, you may be able to take part in this settlement. All you have to do to qualify is:
- Provide evidence of damage to your crops between 2015 and 2020
- Prove your yield loss
If you think you might qualify, contact us for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.