US farmers are waiting for a decision on the herbicide, dicamba, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bloomberg reported on 14 October.

The herbicide was banned by the US government earlier this year. However, a reprieve was possible, Bloomberg said.

An announcement on whether dicamba-based products could be used in the next planting season was expected by the US EPA, Bloomberg quoted administrator Andrew Wheeler as saying in an webinar with the Minnesota Farm Bureau on 1 October.

The products affected included soyabean seeds that were resistant to the weedkiller and the soyabean itself, under brands including BASF SE’s Engenia and Bayer’s AG’s Extend.

“There’s this uncertainty on whether or not they’re going to be able to apply dicamba over the top of soyabean crops,” Michael Frank, who heads Nutrien’s Ag Solutions business, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying in a telephone interview.

In its decision on 3 June 2020, the 9th Circuit US Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked sales of the herbicide in the USA. In its ruling it said that the EPA had ignored risks associated with the chemical drifting onto other properties and had violated federal regulations when it had extended licensing in October 2018 for two years, Bloomberg said.

The EPA had criticised the court decision, which had led to the cancellation of the registration for three dicamba-based products sold by BASF, Bayer and Corteva Inc.

US farmers will harvest 82.3M acres of soyabeans for the 2020/21 crop year, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates. USDA data showed that 94% of soyabeans planted in the USA were genetically modified specifically to tolerate herbicides.

The American Farm Bureau Association and other industry groups were advocating for continued dicamba use, arguing that most crop farmers were already familiar with it and changing to other products could affect yields, Bloomberg said. Others were concerned with the chemical’s level of so-called volatility.

If the EPA ruled against dicamba, Bayer had said it planned to compensate farmers who had bought its dicamba products.