EPA Issues Fines Over Dicamba

EPA Fines Nutrien Ag Solutions for Illegal Dicamba Applications in 2020

Emily Unglesbee
By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
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EPA handed down its first enforcement action over illegal dicamba applications in 2020, with a fine levied against Nutrien Ag Solutions. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- EPA has levied a fine against Nutrien Ag Solutions for allegedly applying dicamba illegally on several Kansas farms in the summer of 2020.

The company will be required to pay $668,100 for spraying dicamba products "in a manner inconsistent with the approved label," the agency's press release on the enforcement action stated. The action was announced by EPA Region 7, which enforces federal environmental regulations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and nine Tribal Nations.

This is the first enforcement action EPA has taken over dicamba label violations, which have largely been handled by individual state regulators for the past five years. It is also the first enforcement action to emerge from the tumultuous weeks following a federal court's order vacating three dicamba registrations in June 2020, which fell in the middle of spray season and caused confusion in the industry. (See more on that situation here: https://www.dtnpf.com/… and here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)

According to EPA, about half of the illegal spray incidents occurred shortly after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit cancelled three dicamba registrations -- XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan -- on June 3, 2020. Five days later, EPA issued a cancellation order that permitted farmers to use "existing stocks" of those three herbicides until July 31, 2020, as long as they followed the label requirements. (See more on that situation and the cancellation order here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…)

On 27 occasions, Nutrien Ag Solutions made off-label applications of two of those dicamba products, violating the terms of the cancellation order, EPA said.

In addition, the agency states Nutrien Ag Solutions also applied other dicamba products on 33 occasions when wind speeds were too high, violating those products' labels.

Nutrien Ag Solutions did not respond to DTN's request for comment, but the EPA's press release stated: "Nutrien Ag Solutions has taken steps to address the alleged violations, including conducting trainings on pesticide applications, working with pesticide applicators to comply with label and other requirements, and improving its recordkeeping practices."

EPA declined to comment on whether the agency has more investigations related to dicamba use underway.

See the EPA press release here: https://www.epa.gov/….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

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Emily Unglesbee