Is it time to give up on the Texas Wine Industry?

leaves on grapevines showing damage from Dicamba at Bingham Family Vineyards

Or is it time for you to be our hero and speak up?

Click on “Comment” button under the “Pesticide Product Registration: Dicamba; Application for New Use” notice on the document tab. You can also read previous comments under the comments tab. Comments must be made before July 5th.

Does it shock you to know that the Texas wine industry is in danger? This applies to many other specialty crops as well. It also applies to any farmer who is not using GMO Dicamba resistant seed.

What is Dicamba?

Dicamba is a chemical that farmers use to kill unwanted plants in their fields. It can be used throughout the growing season on cotton and soybeans if these crops have been planted with expensive GMO seeds that have been bred to be resistant to Dicamba. However, Dicamba can easily turn into a gas (volatize) and spread to other areas, which can hurt other crops in an area that farmers don’t want to kill.

Some farmers claim that they can’t grow their crops without this chemical, but many growers all over the United States grow cotton and soybeans without this chemical.

The farmers using this chemical are doing so because the EPA has said that it is fine to use. The farmers need clear direction from the EPA. What we need is for the EPA to look at the mounds of evidence and see how unsafe this chemical is to other farmers not using Dicamba resistant GMO seeds and rule accordingly. The EPA needs to accept the fact that this chemical is unsafe for use and rule accordingly, not being swayed by big agricultural companies and the money that they make selling these seeds and this chemical.

What do you mean by Volatizes?

Dicamba volatilization is the process by which the herbicide Dicamba changes from a liquid to a gas, or vapor, after application. Dicamba is considered moderately volatile due to its high vapor pressure, making it one of the most volatile herbicides. When in vapor form, the pesticide can travel long distances through the atmosphere and be redeposited on soil, water, or plants by wind and wet deposition. This can cause damage to non-target species.

Note: All of these photos show Dicamba damage on vineyard leaves in 2023. This isn’t damage caused by a late spring freeze or hail. The curly leaves are signs of the chemical damage.

leaves on grapevines showing damage from Dicamba at Bingham Family Vineyards

The EPA and the courts have gone back and forth on whether to allow Dicamba to be sprayed. The most recent was this past year which including allowing any existing supplies to to sprayed. As this quote from Tiffany Lahmet’s article states.

Thus, the court found that the EPA violated FIFRA by failing to allow notice and comment and vacated the 2020 registrations for XtendiMax, Enginia, and Tavium. In light of this decision, there are currently no over-the-top dicamba products approved in the United States.

Existing Stocks Order

On February 14, 2024, the EPA issued an existing stocks order. Based upon this order, as of February 6, 2024 (the date of the Arizona court’s decision), the Products are no longer registered under FIFRA and it is illegal to sell or distribute them except for those “existing stocks” discussed in the order.

Texas Agriculture Law Blog, by Tiffany Lahmet, February 19, 2024

Because of the “existing stock” order. Dicamba is being sprayed on crops this crop year.

dead grapevine showing Dicamba damage at Bingham Family Vineyards

This vineyard photo shows a block of vines that has been completely destroyed. The cover crop was allowed to grow without mowing because the most of the vines themselves were dead.

As Tiffany Lahmet mentions in her article, one of the tactics that the manufacturers of Dicamba chemical could do is to “re-register the product by offering additional evidence for the EPA to consider and to consider the comments offered by stakeholders and the public before coming to a decision.

This is what they are doing now, but this also gives you the opportunity to speak out as a concerned member of the public concerning the approval of the use of the chemical Dicamba until July 5th.

You can make a difference!
Public comment is very important before July 5th.

Here is a suggestion for the type of comments that you might want to make:

The approval of dicamba for agricultural use poses significant risks to non-target crops and the broader environment due to its high volatility and propensity to drift off target. Introduced in 1967, dicamba’s ability to volatilize and become airborne at high temperatures has long been recognized, causing it to transform into clouds of herbicide capable of traveling extensive distances and causing widespread damage.

Furthermore, its tendency to drift and move with the wind or run off into drainage ditches and bodies of water exacerbates its environmental impact, leading to unintended harm to orchards, gardens, and fields not treated with dicamba-tolerant crops.

The persistent reports of damage to diverse agricultural landscapes underscore the need for reevaluating the approval and regulation of dicamba to protect the integrity of American agriculture and the environment.

But let them know that you personally think that approval is the wrong thing to do. That it will hurt the freedoms of so many growers, wineries, and retail aspects of our country to their livelihoods. It would limit farmer’s seed choices to specific high cost seeds as well as damage any other crops other than GMO soybeans and cotton.

More dead vines

dead grapevine showing Dicamba damage at Bingham Family Vineyards

More Information about the Application for Use of Dicamba

The EPA is expecting to hear a large amount of interest in this application for use.

Product type: Herbicide.
Proposed use: Dicamba-tolerant cotton
and dicamba-tolerant soybeans.
Contact: RD. This proposed new use has been coded as an R170, additional food use, which carries a PRIA 5 statutory review time of 17 months from the date that the action gets in-processed.

Because EPA expects a large stakeholder interest in this application, EPA also included in the docket the BASF’s current proposed labeling associated with the application.

Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 108 / Tuesday, June 4, 2024 / Notices

If you are interested in reading more, here are a few more quotes and their related articles.

Click on the citations for the full articles.

Larry Shrawder, proprietor of Stony Run Winery in Pennsylvania, vineyards have experienced a range of drift-induced symptoms, from leaves shriveling and curling up on the ends, which takes about four to six weeks to recover, to complete destruction of primary buds for next year’s crop. “Using 2,4-D and dicamba to kill weeds is like burning your trash with a thermo-nuclear weapon. It produces a lot of collateral damage,” he shares. Impacted by drift five years in a row, he has lost $1.4 million in revenue in 3 of those years alone.

Off-Target Herbicide Drift Threatens Vineyards Across U.S.
by Michelle Williams, Wine Business Monthly, Jan 12, 2021

Dicamba was introduced to American agriculture in 1967, but was never widely used during warm months because it was well known that the chemical can volatilize and move long distances when temperatures climb. Volatilization is when dicamba particles turn from a liquid to a gas in the hours or days after the herbicide is applied, effectively turning into clouds of weed killer and causing landscape level damage.

Dicamba is also prone to drifting on the wind far from where it is applied; as well, it can move into drainage ditches and bodies of water as runoff during rain events.

The New Lede, February 6, 2024
leaves on grapevines showing damage from Dicamba at Bingham Family Vineyards

The EPA admitted in a 2021 report that its application restrictions to limit dicamba’s harm had failed and the pesticide was continuing to cause massive drift damage to crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that up to 15 million acres of soybeans have been damaged by dicamba drift.

Center for Biological Diversity, February 6, 2024

The announcement is the latest move in a years-long saga that has played out across US farm country, pitting farmer against farmer. While many growers say the dicamba products – sprayed over special dicamba-tolerant crops – are necessary to fight back increasingly difficult-to-kill weeds in their fields, many others say their own orchards, gardens and farm fields not planted with dicamba-tolerant crops are being damaged by the drift of the pesticide across the countryside.

The New Lede, February 15, 2024

Since 2017, dicamba has been the subject of thousands of complaints by farmers and has been responsible for millions of acres of damage to crops, endangered species and natural areas. The weed killers were previously banned for a few months in 2020 before the Trump administration reapproved dicamba.

The New Lede, February 15, 2024
leaves on grapevines showing damage from Dicamba at Bingham Family Vineyards

Give a shout out of thanks to Texas Wine Growers which we are proud members. This is the organization that brought the application to our attention at Bingham.

Thank you all for your support and concern for the growth of the Texas Wine Industry. Thank you for your help in this effort


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