Suggestions to EPA Filed

Illinois Applicators Call for More Dicamba Rules

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Concerns about off-target movement of dicamba are prompting Illinois retailers to ask the U.S. EPA for additional label restrictions. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Ill.(DTN) -- How dicamba goes to the field in 2019 is still up in the air, but an Illinois group has joined similar efforts to make sure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hears concerns and to offer alternatives to current regulations.

A historic number of pesticide complaints in the state prompted the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) to make four suggestions that would further define labels for the three herbicides used in the Xtend cropping system. Those suggestions include:

1. Growers should submit the type of soybean trait planted on all sides of any Xtend field that is intended to be treated with dicamba, in a form signed by the grower and provided to the applicator, ahead of any commercial application.

2. Do not apply if sensitive crops are adjacent to the field of application in any direction. (Label currently states do not apply when wind is blowing toward adjacent sensitive crop)

3. Do not apply beyond the V6 growth stage for soybeans. (Current labels state R1)

4. Do not apply after June 30 of each calendar year.

IFCA represents members of the agriculture input industry including chemical and fertilizer manufacturers, distributors, ag retailers and application equipment suppliers. Association President Jean Payne said the recommendations presented to EPA this week were not made lightly, and that she expects they will be viewed by many as going too far and others will deem they do not go far enough.

The group wanted to be clear in its support of dicamba as a weed management tool in soybean. "We also support co-existence with other sensitive soybeans, specialty crops and other sensitive plants," IFCA stated in a regulatory alert to its members.

"This is a very controversial issue, but a recent survey of our members clearly showed we had to take leadership on this," Payne said. In that survey, more than 70% of the custom applicators said they observed symptoms in adjacent non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans when the wind was not blowing toward the field at the time of application. DTN's article about that study can be found here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

The EPA must decide whether to reregister XtendiMax and FeXapan by November. Engenia registration expires in December. In correspondence with DTN earlier this week, EPA officials once again stated that the agency intends to make that decision in time for growers to make informed seed choices this fall.

Payne said IFCA recently met with all the pesticide manufacturers to discuss the best path forward given the high number of complaints that farmers have filed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2018, the clear majority of which are dicamba symptoms on sensitive soybeans.

As of Aug. 24, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA) has received 319 misuse complaints attributed to dicamba symptoms and the total number of pesticide misuse complaints is now at 500. Historically, total complaints to IDA have averaged 100 to 125 per year for nearly two decades (including the years when the Roundup Ready soybean technology was introduced in the mid-1990s).

A regulatory alert to the IFCA membership stated: "A 400% increase in pesticide complaints is not a good thing for our industry no matter how you try to look at it. And when most of the complaints are coming from farmers, it is even more concerning."

Details for the reason behind each of the four IFCA suggestions can be found in the letter sent to EPA: https://ifca.com/…

The full regulatory alert can be found here: https://ifca.com/…

The document stresses the potential of losing dicamba labels and states: "If we lose the dicamba labels altogether by not addressing the obvious issues, then we could face a future where most GMO soybeans planted are dicamba tolerant, but with no legal way to apply dicamba post-emergence.

"Keep in mind that while USEPA will determine what is on the federal pesticide label, the states can also enact additional restrictions and that too could happen in Illinois, especially if the legislature gets involved."

Pamela smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com

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Pam Smith