A federal court has overturned a previous ruling that allowed the use of over-the-top dicamba herbicides on dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton.
The Feb. 6, 2024, ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona vacates or halts the 2020 registrations for XtendiMax, Enginia and Tavium herbicides on non-dicamba soybeans and cotton. The Court found that the EPA violated Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodentcide Act notice and comment mandates for issuing “new use” pesticide registration for over-the-top dicamba for dicamba tolerant soybean and cotton.
The National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity were the plaintiffs in the case against the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection agency received about 3,500 incident reports that were dicamba related in 2021, the agency said. More than a million acres of non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans, a variety of non-targeted crops, including sugarbeets, allegedly were damaged, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 65 million acres — two-thirds of soybeans and three-fourths of cotton are dicamba-resistant — the Center for Biological Diversity said in a news release. About half of those acres are sprayed with dicamba, the news release said.
Depending on the county, 33% to 70% of Minnesota’s soybean acres are dicamba-resistant, said David Kee, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council director of research.
Minnesota farmers harvested 7.3 million acres of soybeans in 2023, which produced 349.4 million bushels.
The timing of the Feb. 6 ruling, which is only a few months before the onset of soybean planting in Minnesota and North Dakota, means that farmers will need to make a quick decision about whether they want to plant dicamba-resistant soybeans, said Kee.
Kee gave farmers the news about the federal court ruling during the “Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research,” meeting held Feb. 7, 2024, in Grand Forks.
“You’re going to have to figure out what you’re going to do,” Kee said.
Farmers who already have purchased dicamba-resistant soybean seed for their 2024 crop should talk to their seed dealers about whether they can change their order, if they decide they no longer want to plant the seed, Kee said.
However, there’s some doubt about whether finding seed that’s not dicamba resistant even is an option.
“The problem for the grower is that we don’t have enough of those types of beans that aren’t dicamba,” said Dan Moser, a Centrol Crop Consulting agricultural consultant who was at the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybeans Research meeting.
“The court decision to vacate the registrations of Xtendimax, Engenia and Tavium has struck a crushing blow to farmers across the country,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a perepared statement. “Many producers have likely made planting decisions for 2024 and this will be very disruptive.”
Farmers who do plant non-resistant dicamba soybeans and have purchased XtendiMax, Enginia and Tavium herbicides, intending to spray them on their crops should meet with their herbicide dealers, if they want to return the products, Kee said.
The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council will work to get the registration for the three pesticides re-approved, he said. However that will take time and nothing likely will change before farmers finish planting the 2024 soybean crop.
“We will start the process. The process will take longer than the planting season,” Kee said. That means that between now and the start of the planting season, soybean farmers need to figure out their options, he said.
“What you’ve got to do, is get your ducks in a row, now,” Kee said.
Bayer soybeans that resist dicamba-based herbicide are the No. 2-most planted soybeans in the United States, though not all are sprayed with the chemical.
Supply chains “will be significantly affected by the unanticipated chemistry demands on more than 40 million dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton acres directly impacted by this order,” BASF told Reuters.
The companies said they disagreed with the ruling and were awaiting guidance from the EPA.
“We haven’t yet quite figured out what our response is to the decision itself,” Michal Freedhoff, an assistant EPA administrator, said at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference in Washington.
Reuters contributed to this article.
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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