USDA advisory committee recommends suspension of dicamba use
The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee has recommended the suspension of dicamba registration to prevent produce crop harm resulting from off-target movement when the herbicide is applied to non-produce row crops.
The dicamba suggestion is one of 33 requests the committee made in its 2018-2020 recommendations, submitted on Feb. 21. The 24-member committee recommended USDA actions to address food safety, labor, trade and production.
The group asked that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue work with the FDA and EPA to address concerns about dicamba, a multi-action herbicide used by soybean and cotton growers to control invasive weeds.
Specifically, the committee asked federal agencies to recognize that dicamba will move off target, and to establish a “reasonable residue tolerance.” The recommendations included one-mile buffers between the application site and the closest sensitive, non-target plant. The group also recommended limiting dicamba application to periods of “more desirable circumstances,” like lower temperature and humidity, pre-plant and preseason, and other factors that would reduce the potential for the chemical moving off target.
Dicamba’s current registration expires in December. The committee recommended that the registration for certain dicamba products not be renewed until research shows that specialty crop producers will not be harmed by off-target movement. The committee also recommended that the USDA and EPA evaluate dicamba products and make a determination about their continued use in 2020 before the registration expires.
The committee’s key recommendations on other topics:
• That the USDA collaborate with the FDA to ensure that foreign produce supply is held to the same standards as domestic supply related to Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance.
• That the Agriculture Secretary work with Congress and the administration for legislative agricultural immigration reforms. The fruit and vegetable industry has identified access to labor as its most critical need, and that reforms should allow the industry to retain the current workforce in light of their ongoing critical contributions to the supply chain as well as create a new future flow of labor that makes their workforce affordable, predictable and sustainable.
• That the Agriculture Secretary consider meaningful improvements in the guidance for and enforcement of Buy American requirements for school food purchases under the 2018 farm bill.
Visit https://gfb.ag/2020FVIACrecs to view the complete list of the committee’s recommendations.