Court ruling prompts cancellation of dicamba registration
By Jay Stone
On June 3, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco vacated the EPA’s registration of XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan herbicides, important crop-protection products farmers used to control weeds. The ruling was issued in a lawsuit filed by environmental activist groups against the EPA.
XtendiMax is manufactured by Bayer, Enginia by BASF and FeXapan by Corteva.
The three-member court panel found that in approving the chemicals’ registration in October 2018, the EPA violated requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
To read the complete ruling, visit www.gfb.ag/9thcircuitdicambaruling.
Georgia Farm Bureau holds that the ruling is unreasonable and exposes Georgia cotton and soybean growers to significant crop loss.
“Georgia cotton and soybean farmers are stunned by the 9th Circuit Court’s unreasonable decision to undo EPA registrations of dicamba, thereby upsetting a seed technology that is widely utilized by farmers for crop protection,” GFB President Gerald Long said in a statement on June 5. “Most cotton and soybean producers have purchased seed for the 2020 crop, and most of that seed in Georgia has already been planted. In its decision, the Court acknowledged the adverse impacts to farmers, and stated that farmers ‘have been placed in this situation through no fault of their own.’ That acknowledgement is little help to farmers who have invested their time and money in this crop, and it is wrong for the Court to upend their efforts. We will look for ways to remedy this situation in the best interest of farmers.”
On June 8, the EPA issued its final cancellation order in response to the court ruling, prohibiting distribution or sale of existing stocks of the dicamba products by the registered manufacturers, except for disposal or return. Commercial applicators may use existing stocks of dicamba products until July 31, provided that the use is in compliance with the product labels and the products were purchased prior to June 3, the date of the court order. All use of dicamba products is prohibited after July 31.
“It is another frustrating development for our members at this late stage in the planting and growing season for cotton and soybean producers,” Long said. “By foregoing the expanded use of existing stocks more hardships have been placed on Georgia producers.”
On June 11, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga. 2nd District) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb. 1st District), leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, wrote to the EPA asking for temporary solutions to help farmers through the current growing season.
“The effect of this ruling during the middle of growing season may prevent cotton and soybean farmers from using these products in combating weeds and create unnecessary challenges for these agricultural producers,” Bishop and Fortenberry wrote. “As you are likely aware, these farmers are already faced with threats to their livelihoods from the ongoing global pandemic as well as several years of low prices caused by trade disputes with our largest trading partners.”
On June 12, Corteva and BASF filed motions to intervene. Corteva, which manufactures FeXapan, filed a motion to intervene, requesting to join the case “to preserve our rights and to support the rights of customers to use the impacted dicamba weed control technologies.” In a media release, Corteva noted that it was not a party to the lawsuit and that before the court issued its decision on June 3, the case only involved Bayer’s ExtendiMax registration.
In response to the EPA’s cancellation order, on June 11 plaintiffs in the case asked the court to hold the EPA in contempt for allowing dicamba products in farmers possession as of June 3 to be used until July 31.
In its response, EPA said the court ruling did not prohibit use of dicamba products that had already been purchased and asked that the contempt request be thrown out. The court gave the plaintiffs until June 18 to reply.