Bill regulating herbicide use sent to governor’s desk

Thursday, March 16, 2017
State Rep. Don Rone

Cody Tucker

ctucker@dddnews.com

One of three bills House bills penned by Mo. Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) aimed at curbing the illegal use of herbicides has passed the Missouri Legislature. It has now been sent to the desk of Gov. Eric Greitens, where it awaits his signature.

If signed by the Governor, the bill would take effect immediately.

Under the revised bill passed Thursday by the House (HB 662), farmers would be fined up to $10,000 for each violation, while repeat offenders would be fined up to $25,000. The earlier bill, first passed by the House, would have fined offenders $1,000 per applied acre, with repeat offenders seeing a fine of $2,000 per applied acre.

The bill saw changes in the Senate, apparently putting caps on the total fines that can be handed down while giving the Department of Agriculture discretion on how much to fine individual offenders.

The alleged illegal use of the herbicide dicamba is said to have caused damage to thousands of across of crops across the midwest in recent years. Rone pledged throughout the campaign season that he would propose legislation to curb the illegal use of herbicides.

The latest bill passed the House 139-18, carrying support across party lines. It first passed the House 144-9 before heading to the Senate.

According to the bill, investigations into the alleged illegal use of herbicides would be handled by the Department of Agriculture. Fines would be handed down if the department determines that someone “knowingly used” a herbicide “for which the herbicide was not labeled for use, which resulted in the herbicide drifting or coming into contact with another person’s field” or personal property.

The Department of Agriculture would have the authority to assess civil penalties for those found liable. Fines gathered by the department would be given to “the school district in which the violation occurred.”

The department would also have the power to subpoena witnesses, requiring them to produce records including documents, books and certification records relating to a person’s application of any herbicide on any field. Failure to produce such records would allow the department to fine that person up to $5,000.

Rone has proposed two other herbcided-related bills in the House. HB 605 would require the Department of Agriculture to review each herbicide and determine if it’s an “inherently volatile herbicide (IVH).” HB 606 would halt the sale of a herbicide-resistant seed if it’s sold without a corresponding herbicide. Both bills are still being debated in the House.

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