This class action alleges that the herbicide Loyant not only doesn’t control grasses and weeds but damages rice crops as well. The complaint names the Dow Chemical Co., Dow AgroSciences, LLC, Corteva, Inc., and EI DuPont de Nemours and Co. as having responsibility for Loyant. The plaintiffs are a number of farms that used Loyant, in a number of different states.
Three state classes have been proposed for this action. The Arkansas Class is all persons and entities in Arkansas who bought and used Loyant on rice crops. The Louisiana and Missouri classes are identical except for the name of the state.
In 2017, the US rice crop earned farmers about $2.2 billion. Farmers’ profits depend on the amount of rice they can get from an acre. This in turn depends on how many weeds are competing for space and nutrients in the field and on how productive the rice plants are.
The complaint says, “Barnyardgrass is one of the most troublesome weeds in rice cultivation.” A heavy infestation of this weed can result in a 30 percent lower yield of rice. As time goes on, weeds can become resistant to specific herbicides. According to the complaint, “Rice growers can spend more than twice as much as corn and soybean growers on an effective herbicide program.”
Farmers use herbicides to kill the weeds, but it’s important that the herbicides not damage the rice. Rice is sold according to grade, which involves its appearance, the smoothness of the kernels, and its overall condition. Rice goes through a process of milling, and yield is affected by how well the rice makes it through that process—how many whole kernels come through as opposed to how many broken kernels.
The complaint alleges, “Loyant adversely impacted rice farmers’ field yield, grade and milling yield.”
Dow advertised Loyant as controlling weeds but not harming rice crops. Dow’s label for Loyant, as quoted in the complaint, says that rice crops “may express temporary crop injury … including slight height reduction or leaf malformations” but “[s]uch crop effecrs are transient and do not effect yield.”
However, the complaint says the damage to rice plants is real and does effect yield. The complaint reproduces photos of damage to the plants and says, “The University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture Research and Extension has seen and reported on significant injury to rice plants with various applications of Loyant.”
In fact, “the Extension Service found that in using the labeled rate of Loyant … applications of the herbicide made 4 days apart resulted in greater than 50% injury to the rice plants.” Also, barnyardgrass control was “less than expected.” Articles in Texas AgriLife and the Bay City Tribune also reported problems. The complaint quotes other sources as well as finding Loyant causes damage to rice crops.