The American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., argued before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 8 in American Soybean Association v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 20-1441). The two groups urged the court to clarify jurisdictional rules under FIFRA and to require the Environmental Protection Agency to use the best available science when evaluating dicamba pesticide registrations and potential impacts to species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The groups filed the lawsuit against EPA in November 2020 on the five-year registration for the use of dicamba on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Growers argued EPA’s flawed approach led the agency to impose arbitrary and overly burdensome buffers and application cutoff dates, which have harmed grower operations. The agency’s arbitrary requirements have forced many growers to take land out of agricultural production, prevented their ability to use important practices like double-cropping, and made it more difficult to control damaging herbicide-resistant weeds, among other harms.
Alan Meadows, American Soybean Association Regulatory Committee Chairman and a soybean grower from Halls, Tennessee, said, “Growers need herbicides like dicamba to protect crops and maintain important conservation practices, for example, reduced tillage. By failing to use good science and data, EPA is unnecessarily making the farmer’s job harder and hurting our bottom line. We are hopeful the court will agree and require the agency to redo these assessments using the science and data it has available.”
“Producers need a vast array of tools at their disposal as they strive to maintain a healthy crop while also adopting conservation practices as good stewards of the land,” said Kody Bessent, Plains Cotton Growers Chief Executive Officer. “A nationwide arbitrary cutoff date imposed by EPA could prevent a grower from making a timely application of weed control product, negatively affecting their bottom line.”
ASA and PCG are asking the court to remand these portions of the registration back to EPA for reconsideration with the direction to use the science and data available to the agency. The groups are hopeful the court will rule on this matter in the coming months.