Well, times are changing, and Big-Meat won't be able to be so caviler to the shiny new House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis chaired by U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn. The South Carolina Democrat wasted no time after his appointment to demand Big-Meat to account for its COVID response.
So, to summarize, environmentalists hate the dicamba registrations. Farmers hate the dicamba registrations. A huge turnover at the top of EPA is underway due to last November's elections. And the clock is ticking on the start of the 2021 planting season. If that's not a whole bunch of uncertainty surrounding dicamba, I don't know what is. Time is of the essence and the feds and courts need to quickly provide guidance.
Of course, they denied it. We didn't do anything wrong. There ain't any liability! Such was the tired worn-out rhetoric of Pilgrim's Pride Corporation and Tyson Foods, Inc in agreeing to settle a long-running civil suit filed by Maplevale Farms claiming the two Big-Meat giants fixed prices on broiler chickens.
No, I'm thinking about the silos that have created a journalistic us vs. them mentality. The last four years of verbal combat in Washington D.C., and to be honest just about everywhere, has exacerbated a toxic atmosphere akin to the Hatfields and McCoys. It is partisanship on super-steroids.
Big Ag must have breathed a huge collective sigh of relief when President-elect Joe Biden tapped Tom Vilsack to be secretary of USDA. For Big Ag Vilsack is like your grandfather's favorite slippers – comfortable, cuddley warm, and dependable.
OK...it's once again time for your audacious commentator to give his hot takes on the agriculture stories that will make news in 2021. This year I've enlisted the help of Homer Simpson who truly knows something about predicting agricultural events before they happened (witness the Simpson take on a horsemeat scandal and the invention of the “tomacco plant”).
In a normal year we would be debating several worthy agricultural stories as the most important. We certainly would be taking a hard look at the continuing dicamba herbicide saga. 2020 saw the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit de-register dicamba formulations in the middle of the growing season from Bayer AG, Corteva, and BASF because of shoddy regulatory control at the Environmental Protection Agency:
Movie plot: In a heroic effort to save the world's soybean crop from dastardly evolving weeds the Environmental Protection Agency authorizes Big Ag – staring Bayer AG and BASF – to unleash the flawed herbicide dicamba in a desperate all-out assault. The EPA acknowledges the holy h-e-double-toothpicks of dicamba is risky but assures everyone they've “got a label” for that. Dicamba beats back the weed invaders, but collateral damage is huge to the nation's peach, cotton, tobacco, tomato, and sunflower crops. EPA says it's sorry about all the unwanted damage and swears to tweak dicamba rules of weed engagement and next time it will be difference (cue patriotic music and American flags).
In the history of our planet there have been five previous major mass extinctions. Now there's a sixth mass extinction brewing.... the Holocene extinction. The Holocene is comparable in scope to the one that wiped T-Rex and all his dinosaur brethern off the face of the earth. Until recently a majority of the public had no idea about the ticking time bomb in their midst.