Cotton and Soy Groups Fight Restrictions In EPA’s New Dicamba Registration

Shortly after the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was registering dicamba products through 2025 with additional regulations, despite a ruling by the Ninth Circuit to vacate the registration, the American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. initiated a lawsuit in the District of Columbia challenging the restrictions imposed in the EPA’s registration. 

In the complaint, which was filed on Wednesday, the plaintiffs said that herbicide-resistant weeds are becoming more prevalent and are “capable of crushing crop yields, overwhelming entire fields, and financially harming farmers.” The organizations claimed that the use of dicamba products is critical for their members, who depend on dicamba and dicamba-resistant crops. 

The products are for use with soybean and cotton crops that are genetically engineered to survive use of the herbicide. The plaintiffs averred that the EPA in its registration “imposed an array of application and use conditions” on soybean and cotton farmers and said the conditions will be “problematic” to farmers who need consistent access to dicamba. They claimed some registration conditions will disrupt growing seasons, increase costs, and hurt yields. The complaint also stated that in addition to harming farmers, these actions will harm consumers and businesses along the food supply chain for soy and cotton. 

Wednesday’s complaint said that “resolving these legal uncertainties is important because Growers are already making planting and seed-selection decisions for the 2021 growing season,” and investing in dicamba related products. 

The American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers further alleged that the conditions the EPA included in its registration did not fall under the agency’s authority in the Federal Insecticide Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the Endangered Species Act, or the Administrative Procedures Act. 

The plaintiffs, represented by Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, are reportedly seeking to remand the “EPA’s temporal dicamba application restrictions and spatial application buffers,” and confirm that further registrations of the product do not exceed the agency’s authority.