Seed World

American Soybean Association Responds to EPA Order Regarding Dicamba

Growers will be able to use existing stocks.

Last week, 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. In response, The EPA issued an “existing stocks” order.

With millions of dollars of product on the line and few fast alternatives available before spring planting, the American Soybean Association (ASA) said in a release, it appreciates the EPA’s swift actions to issue an existing stocks order and allow farmers planning to use dicamba product for 2024 to receive and use it this season.

“The court’s decision on dicamba instantly left tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland in limbo—and in limbo a matter of weeks before spring planting,” Josh Gackle, ASA president and North Dakota soybean farmer said in the release. “We appreciate the certainty EPA’s existing stock order provides to farmers from North Dakota where I farm, all the way to Florida and everything in between. This ruling potentially affects more than 50 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton—an area larger than the state of Nebraska—so again, we are very appreciative of EPA’s decision to let us get through the 2024 growing season by using any product already in the delivery pipeline.”

The EPA declared farmers can accept “existing stocks”—previously registered pesticide products currently in the United States that were packaged, labeled and released for shipment before Feb. 6 (the effective date of the District of Arizona’s vacatur of dicamba registrations). The existing stocks order also clarified that dicamba product already in the possession of distributors, co-ops and other parties for sales before that date can be sold and distributed, within set guidelines outlined in the order.

The ASA is the national advocacy organization for the industry and led a letter to EPA last week signed by 26 soy state affiliates asking the administration for help following a dicamba ruling in a federal district court in Arizona. The court ruled the EPA made a procedural error in issuing 2020 dicamba registrations for over-the-top (OTT) use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Because EPA did not offer a public notice and comment period before issuing the registrations, the court ruled the agency was in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and vacated 2020 registrations for XtendiMax, Enginia and Tavium.

FIFRA gives EPA the authority to issue existing stocks orders for products that are cancelled, which is now a major priority for the soybean industry. ASA also asks for the administration’s support of an appeal of the ruling and help in seeking to stay the ruling from taking effect pending appeal.

In 2023, ASA, its 26 state soy affiliates and several cotton associations submitted an amicus brief to the District Court of Arizona in the case urging the judge to avoid vacatur.

The federal court ordered farmers to stop using dicamba due to concerns over its environmental impact and the potential for it to harm neighboring crops. Dicamba is an herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds. It’s tendency to drift away from the target application area and affect nearby plants may result in damage to crops, gardens and natural habitats. The court stated it did not think the EPA adequately assessed the dicamba’s risks when it approved the herbicide for OTT use.