LUBBOCK, Texas– Grape growers across the High Plains have filed a lawsuit against Bayer-Monsanto and BASF over herbicide damage to their vineyards.
Dicamba is a herbicide used by local cotton growers that has been found to affect neighboring crops, like Newsom Vineyards.
“It’s just like COVID. It kills the weak and weakens the strong so something else can kill them,” said Neal Newson. “It’s just accumulative from year to year, it doesn’t get any better.”
The product was released by Bayer-Monsanto and BASF back in 2016, but documents show it raised red flags in 2009 before hitting the market.
“They knew this about the product before it was even released, that they were going to have issues with vaporization or turning it into a gas” said Newson. “[A farmer] can put the product out under ideal conditions and then hours or days later it vaporizes and moves it somewhere else.”
Now Newsom, along with 57 other growers, have filed a lawsuit represented by Liggett Law Group.
“There is no question that Dicamba is what’s causing these problems because that’s the only product that causes this distinct cupping in the leaves” said Ted Liggett. “Regrettably, there are farmers in this area that haven’t been able to harvest any fruit because they planted it about the same time Dicambas was being used, and year after year they haven’t seen any income.”
In response to the lawsuit, Bayer released the following statement:
“We have great sympathy for any grower who suffers a crop loss, but there are many possible reasons why crop losses might occur including extreme winter weather conditions that can have particularly devastating effects on perennial crops like vineyards. While Bayer has not been served with the Texas lawsuit, we stand strongly behind the safety and utility of our XtendiMax™ herbicide and will continue to defend this technology. The EPA has comprehensively evaluated XtendiMax™ and determined it does not pose any unreasonable risks of off-target movement when used according to label directions.”
Local grape growers are asking that Dicamba be eliminated altogether so they can continue their trade efficiently without pulling anymore vines from the ground.
“We’ve got to change what we are doing or I cannot exist,” said Newsom, “in five years I will not exist. I will be doing something else.”