The Missouri Department of Agriculture says they are investigating 115 complaints about pesticides in four southeast Missouri counties.

The Missouri State Capitol (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The Missouri State Capitol (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

MDA Division Director Judy Grundler addressed the Missouri House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources on Thursday.

Grundler told the Committee that there are currently 70 active investigations encompassing almost 40,000 acres and more than 400 fields. She could not provide specific details to lawmakers, because it’s enforcement-sensitive.

“We also see damage in peaches. We are hearing damage in peanuts, watermelons, tomatoes and also some alfalfa has been reported,” Grundler said.

Grundler told the Committee that the 115 complaints have come since June 22, one month ago.

“To put that in perspective, typically we receive somewhere between 75 and 80 complaints on pesticide use throughout the state in a single year,” Grundler said.

Grundler told lawmakers there have been seven MDA investigators in the Bootheel.  She also announced that a July 29 meeting is planned at the Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville.

Committee Chairman State Rep. Craig Redmon (R-Canton) is pleased with the Department’s investigation into the pesticide complaints.

“Agriculture is our number one industry and we’ve got to take care of it and protect it,” Redmon said. “So we don’t need a few bad players ruining it for everybody, and hopefully that’s what’s going to come out of these meetings,” he said.

State Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) tells Missourinet he will introduce legislation in January to increase penalties on those who illegally spray pesticides.  Rone wants to increase the fine from $1,000 per field to $10,000 per field.

Rone says he’ll ask House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) to fast-track the bill.