Dicamba Decision Leaves Farmers in Limbo

Cindy Zimmerman

This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling that vacates current U.S. registrations of certain low-volatility dicamba products, such as Bayer’s XtendiMax and BASF’s Engenia, halting sales immediately. The court ruled EPA violated federal regulations when it extended approval of registration for the herbicide for another two years in October 2018.

Bayer and BASF have both issued statements saying they strongly disagree with the ruling and are assessing next steps and direction from the EPA on actions it may take in response to the ruling. Bayer has paused its sale, distribution, and use of XtendiMax® and created a new website for farmers to get the latest updates on the issue.

The official statement from BASF says the ruling is “unprecedented” and has the potential to devastate “tens of thousands of farmers” who use the herbicide to control resistant weeds during the growing season.

“We will use all legal remedies available to challenge this Order and we remain committed to serving our customers with safe and effective crop protection solutions, including Engenia herbicide.”

The third product registration in the ruling was FeXapan by Corteva. However, Syngenta’s Tavium dicamba product was not included in the order. The ruling pertains only to the EPA’s 2018 registration decision, which expires in December 2020. Tavium was just approved last year and not part of that 2018 decision.

Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock is urging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to seek an immediate stay of federal court order and appeal the ruling “using all legal avenues available …” .

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

Late Friday, EPA issued a statement from Administrator Wheeler on the decision:

“We are disappointed with the decision. The 2020 growing season is well underway and this creates undue burden for our first conservationists – 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 Court itself noted in this order that it will place a great hardship on America’s farmers. This ruling implicates millions of acres of crops, millions of dollars already spent by farmers, and the food and fiber Americans across the country rely on to feed their families.”

“EPA is assessing all avenues to mitigate the impact of the Court’s decision on farmers.”

AgWired Precision, ARA, BASF, Bayer, EPA, Herbicide, Precision Agriculture, Syngenta