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EPA grants 5-year registrations for dicamba products

WASHINGTON — Four months after a U.S. appeals court blocked sales, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved new five-year registrations for two dicamba products and extended the registration of an additional dicamba product.

The three registrations include new control measures that the EPA said would ensue the products can be used effectively while protecting the environment, including non-target plants, animals and other crops not tolerant to dicamba.

Through the Oct. 27 action, EPA approved new registrations for two “over-the-top” dicamba products — XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide — and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product, Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology. These registrations are only for use on dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans and will expire in 2025.

To manage off-site movement of dicamba, EPA’s registration features important control measures, including:

• Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent, also called a Volatility Reduction Agent, be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility.

• Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located.

• Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30.

*Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.

The 2020 registration labels also provide new flexibilities for growers and states. For example, there are opportunities for growers to reduce the downwind spray buffer for soybeans through use of certain approved hooded sprayers as an alternative control method.

EPA also recognizes and supports the important authority Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Section 24 gives the states for issuing locally appropriate regulations for pesticide use. If a state wishes to expand the federal OTT uses of dicamba to better meet special local needs, the agency will work with them to support their goals.

“This action was informed by input from state regulators, grower groups, academic researchers, pesticide manufacturers and others. EPA reviewed substantial amounts of new information and conducted assessments based on the best available science, including making effect determinations under the Endangered Species Act,” the EPA stated in a news release.

“With this information and input, EPA has concluded that these registration actions meet Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act registration standards. EPA believes that these new analyses address the concerns expressed in regard to EPA’s 2018 dicamba registrations in the June 2020 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Further, EPA concluded that with the control measures now required on labels, these actions either do not affect or are not likely to adversely affect endangered or threatened species.”

Provides Certainty

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said with the registration farmers now have the certainty they need to make plans for their 2021 growing season.

“After reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science and carefully considering input from stakeholders, we have reached a resolution that is good for our farmers and our environment,” Wheeler said.

Illinois Soybean Growers have been and will continue to monitor the ongoing dicamba discussions.

“We join the American Soybean Association in our appreciation of the EPA continuing dicamba registrations. For many Illinois soybean farmers who use the product safely and effectively, dicamba is an important tool for combating weed pressure. The ruling provides certainty for use of the product, and as farmers, that’s what we’ve asked for as it relates to dicamba rulings all along,” said Doug Schroeder, ISG chairman.

“We welcome the EPA’s science-based review and registration decision providing growers access to this important tool,” said Lisa Safarian, president of Bayer Crop Science North America.

“Growers need options, and we are proud of our role in bringing innovations like XtendiMax herbicide forward to help growers safely and successfully protect their crops from tough-to-control weeds.”

“The need for Engenia herbicide is greater than ever before due to increased weed resistance. When the weeds win, farmers see the impact to their livelihoods, harvests and yields,” said Scott Kay, vice president of U.S. Crop, BASF Agricultural Solutions.

“Controlling resistant weeds is not only a physical challenge for farmers, it also can have a significant financial impact. It is estimated that certain resistant weed populations can reduce yields by 50% or more. This means that farmers planting dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans could potentially stand to lose more than $10 billion if they lost access to dicamba-based herbicides, like Engenia herbicide.”

“Following the unpredictable circumstances this year, growers will be closely looking at their dicamba herbicide options for 2021,” said Pete Eure, Syngenta herbicide technical lead.

“In its first full season in the field, Tavium delivered consistent weed control, crop safety and three weeks longer residual than dicamba alone across geographies in soybeans and cotton. It is the market’s first dicamba herbicide premix, and it remains a powerful and convenient choice for growers next year.”

Challenge Ahead

The Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition and Pesticide Action Network North America, all parties to the prior litigation ruled on by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, plan to challenge the Oct. 27 EPA decision.

“Given EPA-approved versions of dicamba have already damaged millions of U.S. acres of crops and natural areas, there’s no reason to trust that the agency got it right this time,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“As the judges who tossed out the EPA’s previous approval stated, the agency wrongly dismissed many of dicamba’s proven harms. At this point, the EPA has shown such callous indifference to the damage dicamba has caused to farmers and wildlife alike and has been so desperate to appease the pesticide industry; it has zero credibility when it comes to pesticide safety.”

EPA was originally sued by National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network in 2017. EPA’s extension of dicamba approvals in late 2018 mooted that suit shortly before a court decision was expected. A second challenge to the extension decision culminated in the court’s June 2020 ruling.

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