When You Get A Call About Last Week’s Dicamba Application…

Jun 8, 2021

Welcome to June, where that nice summer breeze is… hopefully void of dicamba.

It’s the time of year when farmers will be out spraying the notorious weed killer while simultaneously crossing their fingers that neighboring producers don’t come at them with pitchforks in the case of drift damage.

At least that’s been the way June has played out since the Xtend trait saw its first widespread use in 2016.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) decided to kick off this year’s dicamba season with a bang too. The agency released their rather salty report on their findings from an investigation into the EPA’s renewal of the dicamba herbicide label back in 2018.

The OIG found that senior EPA officials at the time overstepped their bounds and intentionally manipulated the scientific review process. In fact, many of the staff scientists wouldn’t even sign off on the final reports made for that renewal decision. In its estimation, bypassing the standard scientific process is what caused the legal debacle with the Ninth Circuit in 2020.

Worth noting: The OIG has said that during the initial registrations of dicamba, initial assessments from staff scientists were excluded to “address stakeholder risks.” Lines may have been crossed – allowing for political interference in what was supposed to be a fully scientific process –  and EPA senior officials promise to not repeat those errors.

While we are here: Lawsuits continue to mount for Bayer and BASF over damage attributed to in-season use of dicamba. Two new high-profile suits have been filed recently by a Texas grape farmer and an Arkansas honey farm. And those come as the two companies are working to appeal a jury verdict that granted $265 million to a Missouri peach farm over damages.