Cash Back Offered To U.S. Farmers For Using Controversial Weed Killer For Soybean by Monsanto

Restriction on the use of a weed killer, manufactured by Monsanto Co, which has been held responsible for extensive crop damages have been imposed by several U.S. states. But the company is now offering farmer a cash back deal as an incentive to apply the product.

The herbicide being incentivized is a mixture of XtendiMax and VaporGrip. According to company data, if farmers agree to spray their soybeans fields farmed on Monsanto engineered seeds that have been engineered to resist the weed killer, they could get back about half of the stickered price of the product from the company. The herbicide in question is manufactured using a chemical known as dicamba.

The new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides tended to evaporate and drift away from the spot that they were sprayed which resulted in crops getting harmed, say farmers and as a consequence there was an agricultural crisis this year in the United States.

If properly applied, XtendiMax is safe, Monsanto says. The company expects that the chemical and soybean seeds that it engineered to resist, called Xtend, would soon come to lead the soybean cultivation in the United States – which is the second-largest exporter of soybean.

Variants of dicamba-based herbicides are also sold by BASF SE and DowDuPont.

The federal and multiple state government are limiting the use of dicamba by farmer in 2018 and farmers who plan to use the herbicide are now required to undergo training. This the background of Monsanto’s cash-back offer. Farmers could get convinced to use the chemical by Monsanto’s incentive say weed specialists, but claim that the chemical would become more costlier by the restrictions.

“We believe cash-back incentives for using XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology better enable growers to use a management system that represents the next level of weed control,” said Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto product manager.

In the market of genetically modified soybean seeds and chemicals, Bayer AG is a close competitor of Monsanto. Bayer is set to acquire Monsanto and this has resulted in the former selling away its LibertyLink soybean brand which is a rival to Xtend, to BASF as a requirement for the $63.5 billion acquisition deal.

The training for those farmers who want to use dicamba in 2018 have been made mandatory by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where the farmers would also have to maintain records which can prove compliance of the farmers to the label instructions. This mandate is now being followed by the U.S. states.

“Utilizing the technology, the cost will go up because of these changes,” said Andrew Thostenson, a pesticide specialist for North Dakota State University.

Allaying the reports of crop damage due to the herbicide, U.S. farmers would still be willing to use Xtend soybeans and the area under plantation would be doubled to touch about 40 million acres next year.

(Adapted from Reuters)

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