CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defended its decision to allow farmers to continue to spray a recently banned herbicide through July 31 after judges with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a petition to halt all use of Engenia, FeXapan and XtendiMax dicamba herbicides.

Instead, it will allow farmers to use existing stocks of the dicamba products under specific rules of EPA’s cancellation order.

"EPA fully complied with the Court's June 3, 2020 decision vacating three pesticide registrations for dicamba-based pesticide products," the filing read. "These products remain unregistered. EPA has not taken any action to revive the registrations."

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals banned dicamba, a volatile weed killer that has damaged millions of acres of crops and natural areas in recent years, on June 3, ruling that the EPA did not have enough evidence to support its approval and also underestimated and ignored risks posed by the herbicide.

On June 8, the EPA issued a cancellation order for the herbicide, versions of which are made by Bayer, BASF and Corteva, but allowed continued application through July 31. In the ruling on behalf of the three-judge panel, Judge William Fletcher wrote that the court's decision was difficult for farmers, who have already planted this year's crop thinking the herbicide would be available. About two-third of U.S. soybean crops and more than half of cotton crops are dicamba-tolerant.

Earlier this month, farming and conservation organizations - the National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network - argued the ruling should have immediately banned all use of dicamba and asked the court to hold the EPA in contempt. 

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