Thursday, August 25, 2016

Missouri House Committee Hearing to Focus on Farmers’ Losses Due to Illegal Use of Herbicide

A state House committee will hold a hearing about losses Missouri farmers are experiencing due to the use of the herbicide dicamba. 

Representative Don RoneR-Portageville, requested the hearing. He cited a recent report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there have been more than 100 complaints filed with the Department of Agriculture of pesticide drift in the Bootheel region, many from four counties: New Madrid, Pemiscot, Dunklin, and Stoddard. Some farmers planted a soybean variety resistant to dicamba, and the new herbicide meant to be applied to that variety hasn’t been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those farmers are turning to older dicamba products which are illegal to use, and the drift from those applications has been damaging neighboring fields. 

Rone is seeking a hearing of the House Select Committee on Agriculture on the matter. 

“We want to hear from all of the players in this. We want to hear from the growers, we want to hear from industry, we want to hear from state, and we want to hear from the University [of Missouri] firsthand how this is going to affect agriculture in this state of Missouri,” said Rone. “Our neighbors to the east, Tennessee has a problem with it and our neighbors in Arkansas have a problem with dicamba, so we’re going to invite some of their representatives to come up and tell us how they are handling this problem in their states.” 

The Chairman of the Select Committee on Agriculture, Representative Bill ReiboldtR-Neosho, said the EPA should also testify. 

“The situation is, the way I understand it, they released the seed but did not release the chemical, and so some of the farmers used the old chemical and that’s what created the problem,” said Reiboldt. 

Rone also plans to file legislation that would impose tougher penalties for applying older dicamba products and other illegal products. 

“I’m going to make the penalties harsher. I’m going to add some things into that bill that are not presently there to safeguard the gardener, the person in the town, the peach tree man, the non-typical row crop,” said Rone. “That will be my first order of business when we go back in January is to get that bill passed before the new season, so we’ll have to have it before April.” 

House Speaker Todd RichardsonR-Poplar Bluff, granted this morning authority for the hearing to take place during this legislative interim. 

“This has rapidly become a very serious issue,” said Richardson. “Representative Rone and other agriculture leaders in our caucus have been keeping me up to date on the situation and I appreciate their hard work on the issue. According to the EPA over 40-thousand acres of farmland has been affected. Today I have formally asked the Select Committee on Agriculture to hold a hearing on this difficult issue and give some direction to the rest of the House.” 

A date and location for the hearing has not been set.

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