EPA Official Discusses Dicamba Re-Registration at Virtual Conference

According to a Jan. 5 AgWired article by Cindy Zimmerman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) acting deputy director Michael Goodis explained the implications of its October 2020 re-registration of certain dicamba-based products at this year’s virtual Beltwide Cotton Consultants Conference. In an audio clip extracted from the conference, Goodis told listeners about a successful petition filed with the Ninth Circuit challenging the EPA’s 2018 registration decision. He then described aspects of the agency’s altered re-registration announced on Oct. 27, 2020.

By way of background, environmental groups and certain farmers opposed the reintroduction of dicamba products given EPA approval in 2018. The petitioners argued that the EPA’s decision was made in haste without statutorily required checks in violation of procedural and environmental laws. The petitioners also took issue with the agency’s bypass of the notice and comment period, and how it embedded the registration within another governing state pesticide restrictions. The appellate court sided with the petitioners and vacated the EPA’s dicamba registration in June of last year.

Goodis described how the agency made determinations undergirding its October 2020 re-registration and some of the further restrictions now governing the use of dicamba products on certain soybean and cotton crops. As to the latter, Goodis noted that the re-registration simplified labeling requirements. He said that previously, dicamba product labels were “too voluminous and too difficult to follow,” referring to the appellate court’s concerns with the former requirements.

The acting deputy director added that the agency revised buffer distances for the use of the products in areas of Endangered Species Act (ESA) concern. In addition, he said, the new registrations included a mandatory cut-off date for submitting applications and also contained updated ESA findings. The product registrations are set to expire in December 2025 unless the agency takes further action to amend them, he noted.