A key Missouri lawmaker worries the pesticide issues that began in southeast Missouri will spread.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture testified Wednesday in Jefferson City that there have been 124 pesticide complaints since June. The complaints involve a specific herbicide called dicamba. Missouri House Select Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) warns the complaints will spread.
“And I think while the problem was really in the Bootheel area for the most part in Missouri, that problem is going to spring up all over the Midwest and the United States,” Reiboldt says.
Missouri House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Chairman Craig Redmon (R-Canton) also weighs in, saying Missouri farmers whose crops have been damaged by pesticide drifts deserve assistance.
“Where my interest really is now is how do we help those injured parties? I mean, how are we going to help those people made whole that lost their crop or whatever?” asks Redmon.
The complaints have come from five southeast Missouri counties and northwest Missouri’s Carroll County. They allege damage to soybeans, peaches, watermelons, tomatoes, cotton, peanuts and some alfalfa. The investigation continues.
During Wednesday’s hearing at the Statehouse before Chairman Redmon’s committee, Reiboldt discussed proposed legislation from State Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) to increase penalties for those who illegally spray pesticides on crops. Reiboldt tells Missourinet that House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) wants to fast-track that bill.
“The Speaker (Mr. Richardson) was in the Bootheel at our (August 31 committee) hearing, so yes, I think we can move that forward and make it a priority,” Reiboldt says.
Under current state law, the fine for illegally spraying pesticides is $1,000 per field. The state Department of Agriculture has eight investigators working on the 124 complaints.