Grantees track pressure campaign over dangerous weedkiller

A battle over the use of dicamba, a weedkiller that critics says harms crops, has turned ugly in Arkansas, with large soybean farms forming a political action committee and going to court to sideline critics. With a grant from the Fund, Loretta Williams, assisted by reporter Trey Kay and producer Mitch Hanley, revisited the issue they first reported on in 2019 and found deep divisions and turmoil in the farming community. Their report was broadcast on the “Us and Them” podcast and excerpted on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and it will be broadcast statewide on Arkansas Public Media in June. The reporters used court documents, IRS filings, public records, hearing transcripts and other material to track the political and legal campaign against regulation—and to capture the voices of community members who declined to speak on the record for fear of retribution. There are several pending lawsuits challenging the use of dicamba because of its effects on small farms, and the reporters are tracking those cases.