With its proposed mega-merger with German agrochemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer still awaiting final approval and its best-selling weedkiller Roundup embroiled in controversy, the Monsanto Company has been busy in recent months to say the least.
To top off these controversies, the company has also had to deal with the banning and multiple lawsuits surrounding one of its most strategically important products — dicamba herbicide, which has been banned in Arkansas (taking effect after April 15 next year) and blamed for the destruction of farmers’ crops in multiple states due to wind drift. Farmers in 10 states have sued Monsanto over the damage dicamba has caused.
With negative press continuing to mount for Monsanto over the herbicide, the company is trying an unprecedented new move, offering cash incentives to farmers who are willing to continue using it.
Report: Monsanto Willing to Pay Farmers to Keep Using Herbicide
According to a report from Reuters, Monsanto will give cash back to farmers in the U.S. who buy the weedkiller, which has been linked to widespread crop damage.
The company is offering the cash incentives even at a time when regulators in several states weigh whether to restrict or perhaps even ban the chemical concoction as Arkansas announced in November.
The product’s official name according to the report is XtendiMax with VaporGrip, based on the dicamba chemical.
Over half of the sticker price could be refunded to farmers in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans that Monsanto has genetically engineered to resist it, according to the report citing data from the company.
Monsanto says dicamba is safe when properly applied, but many farmers disagree including the Baders, who own the largest peach farm in the company’s home state of Missouri. They sued Monsanto in 2016 claiming damage and potential losses of fruit crops that were anticipated to be in the millions of dollars after dicamba drift happened from a nearby farm.
The U.S. is the second-largest exporter of soybeans which are widely used in packaged foods and animal feed among other users, and Monsanto hopes that their Xtend system of dicamba-resistant GMO seeds will allow them to dominate the market, if dicamba-based herbicides can keep from being banned, of course.
In Arkansas dicamba sprayings would reportedly not be allowed after April 15 through October 31; virtually all of the growing season. In North Dakota, restrictions could include a ban after June 30 and also whenever temperatures top 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite restrictions, the growing non-GMO and organic movement, and potential rising prices, Monsanto expects sales of Xtend to double next year, and paying farmers in order to grow them is just part of the reason why.
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