Seed World

U.S. District Court Rules EPA’s Approval of Dicamba Unlawful

Agricultural Retailer’s Association President and CEO Daren Coppock talks about how the decision could impact the seed industry

The U.S. District Court of Arizona ruled that the EPA’s approval of dicamba for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton was unlawful, effectively canceling the 2020 registrations for XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), and Tavium (Syngenta). This decision prevents farmers from using dicamba for weed control on dicamba-resistance soybeans and cotton this season.

Seed World U.S. editor Aimee Nielson chatted with Agricultural Retailers Association president and CEO Daren Coppock about the decision and how it could impact the seed industry this year. 

SW: Can you explain the recent federal court decision regarding dicamba?

Coppock: Certainly. A federal District Court in Arizona recently vacated the registration for over-the-top (OTT) applications of dicamba on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This decision affects OTT dicamba products like Xtendimax, Engenia, and Tavium, and it’s national in scope.

SW: How does the ARA view this decision?

Coppock: ARA strongly disagrees with the court’s decision. We believe that such determinations should be made by a science-based regulatory agency rather than through the courts. This decision, especially its timing, will significantly disrupt ag retailers, distributors, manufacturers and farmers who had planned to use these products in 2024.

SW: What are your concerns with the timing of this decision?

Coppock: The timing couldn’t be more problematic. Farmers have already made their seed choices for 2024, and retailers have stocked up on seeds and the necessary herbicides. Dicamba-tolerant seeds are specifically chosen for use with dicamba herbicides, and this court decision disrupts those plans at a crucial time, affecting the entire supply chain.

SW: Is there a consensus on the registration and use of OTT dicamba?

Coppock: Opinions vary on whether OTT dicamba should be registered and used. However, there’s a broad agreement that decisions about pesticide registration are best made by regulatory bodies with scientific expertise, not by federal courts or activist litigators who lack this expertise.

SW: What steps do you recommend moving forward?

Coppock: We encourage the EPA and the registrants to appeal the decision and request a stay during the appeal process. We also advocate for flexibility in emergency labels and cancellation orders to minimize the chaos and economic harm this decision could cause to retailers, distributors, and farmers.

SW: How important is it for decisions like these to be made by scientific regulatory agencies?

Coppock: It’s crucial. Regulatory agencies possess the scientific expertise necessary to make informed decisions about pesticide use. This expertise ensures that considerations about human health, environmental impact, and efficacy guide these decisions, benefiting consumers and the environment alike.