By C.J. Miller
Earlier this week, a federal judge with the U.S. District Court of Arizona has revoked the approval that allows the use of dicamba herbicide products on soybeans.
The judge’s decision immediately halts the use of over-the-top applications of Xtendimax® from Bayer, Engenia® from BASF, and Tavium® from Syngenta.
“I suspect we are going to be encouraging all of the agriculture community—not just the soybean sector, but certainly the entire ag community—to band together here because this is a process we cannot allow to stand,” says Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). He has also served as USDA Secretary and Deputy Secretary during President George W. Bush’s administration. Conner is also a native of Benton County, Indiana.
The ruling by U.S. District Court judge David Bury says that the EPA violated the public input requirement from the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act before giving its approval for the use of dicamba herbicides.
“This is a significant ruling and it’s part of the more fundamental problem we have had in the last decade where the courts have had just too much to say about the regulatory process of the government of the United States,” says Conner. “The courts have really sort of taken over from where the experts are.”
Conner says the timing of the judge decision is most problematic.
“I am just returning from a trip to Alabama with ag retailers down in that region, and planting season is upon them. They are ready to roll out the door using dicamba products that have been in their warehouses,” he says. “In addition to the cost of that inventory, now farmers may well have to find something else to use and it’s not clear what that product will be and what the cost will be.”
He adds that there may likely be a stay of the decision during the appeals process, which would still allow for use of dicamba herbicides. “That’s what we’re going to be encouraging. I know there is already a letter circulating among members of Congress to the Environmental Protection Agency encouraging the agency itself to seek that stay, which would have far more credibility if that were the case, so this fight is not over,” says Conner.