EPA re-registers drift-prone dicamba weedkiller, relieving some farmers and frustrating others who fear crop damage

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Farmers can continue to use dicamba for five years, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said [October 27], offering certainty to cotton and soybean growers who are the most frequent users of the weedkiller make by Bayer AG, BASF SE, and Corteva Agriscience.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision, however, is likely to frustrate some farmers growing vegetables, fruit, and other crops—including soybeans that aren’t genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide. Farmers have filed lawsuits seeking compensation for the damage they say dicamba has caused when it drifts from sprayed fields onto their property. Bayer already agreed to pay $400 million to settle damage claims involving dicamba.

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Wheeler described EPA’s approval to RFD TV, a rural news network based in Tennessee. EPA’s press office confirmed the interview. [watch video here].

To protect other farmers from dicamba drift, the EPA will require additional controls such as providing a cutoff date after which soybean farmers and cotton farmers could no longer use dicamba-based weedkillers, and increasing the buffer zone they must use, Wheeler said.

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