EPA Order Sought on Dicamba Stocks

Ag Groups Plead With EPA's Regan to Allow Use of Existing Dicamba Stocks

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Agriculture interest groups have asked for EPA's help following a recent dicamba court ruling. (DTN file photo by Pamela Smith)

This article was originally posted at 3:42 p.m. CST on Thursday, Feb. 8. It was last updated with additional information at 6:34 a.m. CST on Friday, Feb. 9.

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LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- State and national associations representing soybean and cotton growers and the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation have asked EPA to issue an order to allow farmers to use existing stocks of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba herbicides after a federal court this week vacated the registrations of three of those products.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacated the 2020 registrations of three dicamba products previously approved by the EPA for OTT applications including XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium.

The groups also asked the agency to appeal the court's decision.

"This deeply flawed order, which vacated three registrations for post-emergent use of low-volatility dicamba on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton (XtendiMax, Engenia, Tavium), comes at a remarkably sensitive time for U.S. soybean farmers and has caused great confusion and uncertainty in our rural communities," the letter signed by 27 groups from across the country stated.

"Moreover, the order poses a significant financial and operational threat to individual farmers, environmental conservation efforts, and the broader economy and agricultural supply chains. To ease the risks of these harmful outcomes, we urge EPA to expeditiously provide use clarity to U.S. farmers in the form of a broad existing stocks order for dicamba manufactured under these registrations currently in the supply chain. Further, we request that EPA appeal this harmful and misguided order and to seek a stay pending appeal."

The ag groups said dicamba is one of just four herbicides widely available and registered for post-emergence in soybeans.

"Importantly, for many soybean farmers in areas with high herbicide resistance pressures, dicamba is the only remaining post-emergent herbicide to which some local weed populations have not yet developed resistance. These farmers have no other effective option to protect their crops beyond dicamba."

In addition, the groups said "virtually all" soybean farmers placed their herbicide and herbicide-tolerant seed orders "months ago."

They said the early order window is "vital" so that agricultural supply chains have time to provide inputs for hundreds of millions of acres.

"These supply chains cannot turn on a dime," the letter said.

"Some manufacturers and retailers provide farmers a discount to order early and prepay to provide greater certainty on volume needs, meaning that thousands of growers have likely already invested millions of dollars in dicamba or DT seed purchases at this point, which they may not be able to recoup if they cannot receive or use dicamba."

The letter was signed by the American Soybean Association, as well as associations representing soybean growers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"We therefore urge EPA to issue a broad existing stocks order under FIFRA," the groups stated in the letter. "This order should include the ability to use all volumes of low-volatility dicamba manufactured under the affected registrations currently in commerce, from the manufacturer to the farm. As discussed above, at this point few farmers have taken possession of herbicide they have ordered for this growing season. If an existing stocks order is too narrow and does not allow for delivery of herbicide from upstream providers, including manufacturers and retailers, it will not be useful for farmers or preventing the harms described above."

In addition, the groups asked EPA that an order on existing stocks permits continued use of dicamba on dicamba-tolerant crops.

The court's ruling has the potential to create chaos in the ag input supply chain, the letter said.

"If most soybean farmers decided to switch to other seed or herbicide varieties at this point in reaction to the order, supply chains would not be able to accommodate demand of this magnitude," the groups said.

"Put simply, there are nowhere near enough alternative seeds or herbicide volumes to meet demand of this magnitude. To accommodate a shift of tens of millions of acres, herbicide would have needed to be manufactured months or even years ago, and seed production would have needed to be ramped up one to two years prior.

"Farmers across the country, our environment, and consumers who rely on agricultural goods all stand to be significantly harmed if greater clarity is not swiftly offered regarding this order," the letter said.

The National Cotton Council (NCC) also asked EPA to allow for the use of existing dicamba stocks, in a letter to the agency sent on Thursday. The letter stated that the dicamba-tolerant weed control system was used on approximately 78% of the 11.1 million cotton acres planted in 2023.

"Planting for the 2024 cotton growing season has begun in south Texas, and our growers indicate that their 2024 seed and herbicide decisions are similar to 2023," the NCC letter stated.

On Wednesday, the NCC issued a statement calling on EPA to appeal the court's ruling and to "move quickly" to find options to "mitigate the economic damage" for growers.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, called on the EPA to issue an order allowing the use of existing stocks.

"AFBF does not condone off-label use of dicamba or any registered pesticide and our farmer and rancher members are committed to the safe use of all crop protection tools," he said in a letter to Regan on Thursday.

"However, responsible farmers that have invested in -- and often taken loans out to purchase -- dicamba-resistant products for the current growing season should not bear the financial burden caused by this legal dispute."

Read the letter here: https://soygrowers.com/….

Read more on DTN:

"Court Vacates Dicamba Registrations," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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Todd Neeley

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