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EPA's existing stocks provision stands, and growers can continue using any stocks of those herbicides in their possession as of June 3, as long as they obey the former federal labels and any existing state regulations on dicamba use. (Joseph L Murphy)

LEGAL BATTLE OVER DICAMBA FAR FROM OVER
A panel of Ninth Circuit Court judges denied an emergency motion to halt dicamba use and hold EPA in contempt Friday.

The decision is an important win for the EPA, which obeyed the Ninth Circuit's June 3 order to vacate three dicamba registrations but allowed farmers and commercial applicators to continue applying "existing stocks" of XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan through July 31.

That means EPA's existing stocks provision still stands, and growers can continue using any stocks of those herbicides in their possession as of June 3, as long as they obey the former federal labels and any existing state regulations on dicamba use. Keep in mind that some states have already exceeded or are nearing dicamba cutoff dates.

However, the legal battle over dicamba is far from over.

The Ninth Circuit is permitting both BASF, which owns Engenia, and Corteva Agriscience, which markets FeXapan, to join Bayer as defendant-intervenors in the case. This is important because, on June 16, BASF filed a motion asking the court to recall and stay its original mandate vacating the registrations. The judges have given the plaintiffs -- a group of farm and environmental groups -- until June 23 to respond before they rule on that request.

A coalition of national grower trade associations that represents farmers, ranchers, and their families nationwide is urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reject an NGO call to invalidate EPA’s dicamba existing stocks order for three dicamba products whose registrations were immediately vacated by the court earlier this month. 

American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, and National Sorghum Producers have filed an amicus brief supporting EPA’s position against the NGO petition that seeks to invalidate EPA’s dicamba existing stocks order and hold the agency in contempt, citing the catastrophic consequences that could result if the NGO’s request is granted.

The grower coalition’s brief, filed June 16, makes a case for farmers caught in a highly frustrating and costly situation amid prime planting season and the narrow weed-control window: “Neither a midseason cancellation nor a vacatur unplants a seed, retroactively tills a field, or clears a storehouse of products purchased for lawful use under the prior registration.”

ERNST JOINS EFFORT TO ADVANCE RENEWABLE FUELS INNOVATION
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is joining a bipartisan effort to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inaction on advanced biofuel registrations. Ernst is co-sponsoring a bill introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have languished before the EPA despite the fuels being successfully used in at least one state. EPA would also be required to render a decision within 90 days on any registration application that has been pending for at least 180 days, as well as take action within 180 days for completed pathways petitions pending for at least 180 days.

“Iowa’s renewable fuel industry has continued to pioneer and offer even cleaner, more efficient choices for consumers,” said Senator Ernst, a longtime champion for the biofuel industry. “This bipartisan effort will override the EPA’s inaction on advanced biofuel registrations and allow our producers to continue their innovative work without unnecessary, burdensome approval processes holding them back and create added value and new opportunities for our farmers and biofuel producers.”

EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHEELER APPOINTS NEW MEMBERS TO THE FARM, RANCH, AND RURAL COMMUNITIES FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler is announcing the appointment of thirty-three members to the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to the EPA administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.

“One of my priorities for EPA has been to restore trust for our agency among agricultural stakeholders and rural communities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “President Trump has been clear about the Administration’s commitment to agriculture and rural America, and as part of that commitment, I am excited to reinstate the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee in 2020 with full membership. This committee will provide valuable input on how EPA’s decisions impact rural America, and I look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendations.”

To build a broad and balanced representation of perspectives for the FRRCC, EPA selected 33 members to represent a variety of relevant sectors from across the U.S., including agricultural stakeholders and allied industries; academia; state, local, and tribal government; and nongovernmental organizations. In selecting committee members, EPA reviewed the quality of applications received between November 7 and December 31, 2019 for nearly 150 nominations, and considered qualifications such as: whether candidates have experience in agricultural issues of relevance to EPA programs, are actively engaged in agricultural production, have related leadership experience, demonstrated ability to examine and analyze complex environmental issues with objectivity and integrity, have experience working on issues where building consensus is necessary, and are able to volunteer time to the committee’s activities.

The committee had no current members at the time of solicitation; therefore, these 33 nominees will constitute a brand new committee, and will each serve two or three year terms beginning on June 15, 2020. The new members of the FRRCC hail from twenty-four states and one territory in all ten U.S. EPA Regions, with six of the Members working in multiple states or at a national capacity. The Committee expects to meet approximately twice a year beginning in late Summer of 2020.

FCA BOARD RECEIVES QUARTERLY REPORT ON CONDITIONS IN AGRICULTURE AND THE FARM CREDIT SYSTEM
At its monthly meeting today, the Farm Credit Administration board received a quarterly report on economic issues affecting agriculture, together with an update on the financial condition and performance of the Farm Credit System (System) as of March 31, 2020.

The U.S. economy appears to have turned the corner following its steep and rapid contraction following the COVID-19 outbreak. April's high unemployment rate edged down slightly in May, and weekly initial unemployment claims continue to decline. Local economies have started to reopen, but the eventual economic rebound depends on the trajectory of the ongoing health crisis and consumer behavior.

For agricultural producers, market volatility has been high for both crop and livestock sectors. Crop returns continue to be under pressure this year because of plentiful supplies and expected strong production. The livestock sector has seen the most disruption during the crisis, but low corn prices have helped reduce feed expenses. The loss of restaurant and food service demand and livestock processing capacity disruptions lowered prices across the livestock marketing chain.

CONSERVATION LEGACY AWARDS APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN
Share the story of how conservation is part of your farm operation and you could be recognized with a Conservation Legacy Award. The awards recognize farm management practices of U.S. soybean farmers that are both environmentally friendly and profitable.

Are you using a reduced tillage practice on your farm? Do you grow cover crops? Have you taken steps to improve energy efficiency or water quality? These are just a few conservation practices used on some farms today that can help produce sustainable U.S. soybeans. Different regions of the country have their own unique challenges and ways to approach conservation and sustainability. We want to hear your farm’s conservation story!

All U.S. soybean farmers are eligible to enter to win a Conservation Legacy Award. Entries are judged on soil management, water management, input management, conservation, environmental management and sustainability.

More information on past winners of the award and how to submit your application is available in the “About” section under “Awards” on the ASA website. All applications must be submitted by Sept. 1, 2020.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.

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