Ag Policy Blog

Retailers and States Want EPA Guidance on Dicamba Ruling

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The Agricultural Retailers Association and state regulators are already writing EPA asking for guidance on the Ninth Circuit ruling on dicamba herbicides. They are also asking for legal avenues to allow farmers to continue using the herbicides this year. (DTN file photo by Pamela Smith)

As DTN's Emily Unglesbee writes, the agricultural industry has been thrown into confusion by Wednesday's ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate EPA approval of the dicamba herbicides XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan. The chemicals are used on 60 million acres of soybeans and cotton, and the court's ruling against the three herbicides took effect immediately.

On Friday evening, the agency issued a press release expressing disappointment with the ruling and stating that, “EPA is assessing all avenues to mitigate the impact of the Court’s decision on farmers.”

“EPA has been overwhelmed with letters and calls from farmers nationwide since the Court issued its opinion, and these testimonies cite the devastation of this decision on their crops and the threat to America’s food supply,” the agency also noted in the statement. See the press release here: https://www.epa.gov/….

Daren Coppock, president and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association, wrote EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler earlier Friday regarding the ruling. Coppock called on EPA to use "all legal avenues available," to allow the herbicide applications to continue. The letter said agricultural retailers are already scrambling to try to find alternatives.

"The immediate nature of the decision and mandate has already created chaos in our industry," Coppock said. "Growers are now without options at the worst possible time in their production year."

Coppock called the appeals court decision "an overreach and must be corrected immediately."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig also wrote Wheeler stating that Iowa is requesting guidance from the agency about what the ruling means for Iowa producers. Naig also wants EPA to provide options for retailers and farmers to apply existing stocks for the 2020 growing season. "This ruling is creating uncertainty at a time when farmers are already heading into the fields to treat emerging crops and it leaves them without effective weed management tools."

So far, Iowa officials have not issued any orders to stop selling the chemicals and the state will continue to operate "under the current pesticide program" until the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Management receives guidance from EPA. Naig stated Iowa officials do not anticipate any enforcement actions against farmers or retailers "who otherwise appropriately purchase, sell, or use these products in the interim." Naig cautioned enforcement decisions could change immediately based on EPA guidance.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday called on EPA to find ways to go around the Ninth Circuit decision and allow farmers to continue using dicamba products they have already bought.

“Producers need all the tools in their toolbox to produce the world’s food, fuel, and fiber, and USDA re-affirms its support for EPA’s science-based process for assessing and managing ecological risks, balanced against the agricultural and societal benefits of crop protection tools," Perdue said. "USDA stands ready to assist its federal partners in meeting that goal. Farmers across America have spent hard earned money on previously allowed crop protection tools. I encourage the EPA to use any available flexibilities to allow the continued use of already purchased dicamba products, which are a critical tool for American farmers to combat weeds resistant to many other herbicides, in fields that are already planted. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit has chosen to eliminate one of those tools.”

Dicamba Legal Update: Here's What We Know: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

The Agricultural Retailers Association letter: https://www.aradc.org/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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