Federal court bans dicamba

Federal court bans dicamba
Jun 04, 2020

The EPA didn’t adequately outline some of the product’s risks, judges said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Cash crop producers may have to go without an important weed-control tool.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit removed federal registrations for dicamba products from Bayer (XtendiMax), BASF (Engenia) and Corteva Agriscience (FeXapan).

Without federal approval, American farmers are prohibited from using dicamba products on their crops.

Syngenta’s dicamba product, Tavium, wasn’t mentioned in the court’s decision.

The three-judge panel decided to remove the registrations because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to properly outline some of the product’s risks when the EPA extended dicamba registrations for two years in October 2018.

“The EPA refused to quantify or estimate the amount of damage caused by (over the top) application of dicamba herbicides, or even to admit that there was any damage at all,” the June 3rd ruling says.

Farmers took to social media to express their concerns over the sudden ruling.

“When 80 (per cent) of a crop is expecting protection from competing weeds, a little late in the game to ban dicamba!” Eugene Etherton, a grower from Le Roy, Ill., said on Twitter Thursday.

“Yes, take away something I need, only way to control water hemp in beans! I don’t care how many premixes I use, still need dicamba,” Karl Jacobson, a producer from Concordia, Kan., posted to Twitter on Thursday.

The affected manufacturers are working on how to proceed to ensure farmers can continue using dicamba.

“We strongly disagree with the ruling and are assessing our options,” Chris Loder, a spokesperson for Bayer, said in an email, Bloomberg reported. “If the ruling stands, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season.”

The litigation was brought against the EPA by the National Family Farm Coalition, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America.

Representatives from the groups are pleased with the decision.

“It is good to be reminded that corporations like Monsanto and the Trump administration cannot escape the rule of law, particularly at a time of crisis like this,” George Kimbrell, a lawyer in the case representing the Center for Food Safety, told Bloomberg. “Their day of reckoning has arrived.”

Industry groups are concerned with how this ruling will affect a farmer's operation in 2020, seeing as many farmers have already purchased necessary inputs.

"We're confident saying farmers have the utmost respect for their neighbors and would not intentionally damage another's crops," Allison Crittenden, director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. 

"Overall, it's worth noting that precision farming has dramatically advanced the way pesticides are applied, and we’re on a path of continuous improvement," she said. "When these sudden decisions are made in courts it can cause serious disruptions for farmers who have already made business decisions for this season, affecting their ability to use already purchased products and their overall plans for planting.” 

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