Honey Farm Alleges Dicamba Herbicide Systems Damaged its Bees and Business

A complaint filed in the Arkansas Eastern District Court on Tuesday by Coy’s Honey Farm Inc., claimed that Bayer and BASF and their dicamba-based growing systems and herbicides have wreaked havoc on its bees, killing them and reducing profit because of drift. 

Specifically, the allegations relate to Bayer’s XtendiMax Herbicide and BASF’s Engenia, which have been marketed, produced, and sold in Arkansas. The plaintiff explained that the state has over 4 million acres of planted rice, soybeans, and corn, much of which uses a system based on these herbicides. The defendants include Bayer Corporation, Bayer U.S. LLC, Bayer Cropscience (Arkansas) Inc., BASF Corporation, and BASF Agricultural Solutions Seed US LLC. 

Coy’s Honey Farm claimed that the “inevitable result” of the diamba systems “will be millions of acres of fields with genetically-modified crops surrounded by a landscape of dead or damaged crops, bushes and trees, devoid of flowering plants, with the resulting loss of birds, bees and other foraging animals and insects who need those plants for sustenance.” 

The complaint explained that use of dicamba has increased significantly to control weeds within the last five years and is used “to control a wide spectrum of broadleaf weeds.” Reportedly dicamba herbicide is absorbed by plants and “induces rapid abnormal cell growth … limits transpiration and photosynthesis,” leads to irregular growth, and kills the plants. 

The plaintiff, a company run by the Coy family which was incorporated in 1997, specifically alleged that it has been and will be harmed by the dicamba system. It owns and cares for over 13,000 hives, each with up to 50,000 bees, which are placed around the state in 260 different locations between and near crops to help with pollination with an agreement between the plaintiff and the land owners.

Allegedly, since dicamba herbicides were approved in 2016, nectar and pollen sources for the bees diminished because of the drift of dicamba herbicides, and the bees have produced less honey.  Coy’s Honey Farm explained that this has caused a loss of income for the farm, and has lost bees because of the reduced food supply.

“While it may be a clever scheme,” the complaint claimed, “it is one that is extremely dangerous to other parts of the environment. Besides being efficient at killing weeds, Dicamba has other characteristics that make its use highly risky,” including that it is sprayed over the top of plants causing drift and is sprayed as a liquid and later is converted to a gas. 

Tuesday’s complaint alleged that the defendants had been warned of the effects of dicamba drift, but promoted their products regardless. They claimed the defendants violated the Lanham Act in their advertising, breached manufacturing duties for warning and instructing, breached implied warranties, and filed additional claims of nuisance, trespass, negligence, liability, and damages. 

Coy’s Honey Farm, represented by Richard Mays Law Firm PLLC, asked the court for damages and an injunction against the defendants.