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Protecting dicamba order

Spraying the field

Farm Bureau joined five other agriculture groups last week to urge the Ninth Circuit court to reject a petition to invalidate the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) “existing stocks” order for three vacated dicamba products.

The American Farm Bureau Federation joined the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council of Am­­erica, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers in filing an amicus brief supporting the EPA’s request to deny the petition. 

The coalition’s brief cites the catastrophic consequences that could result if the court grants a request to hold the EPA in contempt and invalidate the agency’s decision to allow use of existing dicamba stocks through July 31. Farmers have planted an estimated 64 million acres of dicamba-tolerant seed this year, and many have no viable weed control alternative.

“Granting petitioners’ request to immediately ban growers’ use of existing stocks of the dicamba products would put America’s soybean and cotton growers at risk for financial devastation,” the coalition’s brief said. “Because no viable alternatives exist that can be deployed immediately, banning growers’ use of existing stocks of dicamba products could have disastrous consequences.” 

Financial losses from the un­­availability of dicamba could total between $2 billion and $10 billion for soybean growers and $400 million to $800 million for cotton growers, the brief said.

The brief also points out the necessity for farmers to be able to rely on EPA’s science-based registration process when making their planting decisions. 

The EPA also defended its de­cision to allow continued use of the three vacated dicamba herbicides — Bayer’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and Corteva’s FeXapan. The agency argued that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling allowed for a “responsible winddown of existing stocks instead of banning their use immediately and completely.” Immediately ending use of the products during the application season “would have draconian effects on the U.S. agricultural system,” EPA said.
 
Court ruling

The Ninth Circuit vacated the registrations for the three dicamba herbicides on June 3, ruling that the EPA didn't adequately estimate dicamba damage and made other violations in approving the products. 

The EPA on June 8 issued a cancellation order that allows stocks of dicamba purchased before the court ruling to be used in accordance with their previous labels until July 31. On June 11, the plantiffs in the lawsuit challenging the registrations filed an emergency motion asking the court to find the cancellation order unlawful and hold EPA in contempt of court.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 19 denied an emergency motion to halt the use of dicamba this growing season. The ruling means EPA’s “existing stocks” order still stands and allows farmers and commercial applicators to continue applying supplies of XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan in their possession as of June 3 as long as they follow the herbicides’ former federal labels.


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