Court sides with EPA on continued dicamba use

Requests from CropLife America and grower coalition to file amicus brief granted.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

June 22, 2020

2 Min Read
Court sides with EPA on continued dicamba use

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition that sought to invalidate the Environmental Protection Agency’s cancellation and existing stocks order issued June 8. Congress has provided the certainty growers need in critical times – like planting season right now – by equipping EPA with the “existing stocks” authority it exercised in its June 3 guidance to growers.

EPA has defended its decision to allow farmers to continue to use three vacated dicamba herbicides -- XtendiMax, FeXapan and Engenia -- through the end of July. EPA argued that vacating the registrations does not technically affect the use of the now-unregistered herbicides. "Rescission of a pesticide registration (either by judicial or administrative action) only makes it illegal to distribute or sell that pesticide," EPA said. "It does not outlaw use of products already legally purchased."

Additionally, during its series of late-night orders June 19, the court granted requests from both CropLife America and a grower coalition to file an amicus brief. The grower request was filed June 16 by the American Soybean Assn. (ASA), American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council of America, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Assn. and National Sorghum Producers and supports EPA’s existing stocks decision. That brief highlighted the devastating consequences that would result if the petitioners' request was granted and growers could not use existing stocks.

Related:Court battle heats up over dicamba pesticide use

An estimated 64 million acres of dicamba-tolerant seed is already in the ground — importantly, with no viable weed control alternative that can realistically be deployed over the next several weeks. Expected yield loss for soybeans and cotton is as high as 50%, with respective losses estimated at as much as $10 billion and $800 million, the grower groups noted in a release in announcing their joint filing of a request for the amicus brief.

In a statement, ASA said EPA’s long-established policy and practice under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) provides for an orderly management of the distribution, sale and use of existing stocks of a formerly registered pesticide product, including – as in this instance – in the context of vacatur.

“Immediately banning use of existing stocks of Xtendimax, Engenia and FeXapan would have financially devastating consequences on America’s soybean growers, who have invested an estimated $3.35 billion for soybean seed in 2020 and hundreds of millions of dollars more in herbicides, labor, fertilizer and other costs, expecting that over-the-top applications of dicamba would remain lawful,” ASA said.

Related:Farmer groups file amicus brief for continued dicamba use

“American growers and the public are fortunate that a proper administrative and judicial review framework exists. Farmers use countless FIFRA-regulated pesticide products, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They make planting decisions and significant up-front financial investments based on the rules and regulations in place at the time plans are made. Soy farmers are dependent on those rules not changing in the middle of the game and are glad the court got it right in these orders,” ASA added in its news release.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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