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More complaints of illegal herbicide use in Missouri Bootheel

Photo of a farm.
File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Missouri lawmakers continue to follow reports of illegal spraying of crops in the Bootheel region.

So far, 124 complaints have been made of people using an outdated version of the herbicide dicamba. Investigators from the Missouri Department of Agriculture have been looking into the complaints over the past few months.

Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton, chairs the state House committee responsible for writing Missouri's agricultural budget. He says, "We know there was a problem, we kind of know what the problem was, and we know where the complaints were. So now we need to help those affected people out so to restore them and make them whole."

Redmond said his committee hasn't been informed yet when investigators will finish their work, but once that happens affected farmers will be able to file lawsuits against those who used the outdated herbicide.

Contaminated crops include peaches, soybeans, cotton and corn.

"That's their livelihood, and they're sitting there without any income because they have no crop, and how long could you sit without getting a paycheck coming into your household?" Redmond said. "I think we need to take up those people's rights and try to move this whole process along."

Back in July, Judy Grundler, the state Agriculture Department's division director for plant industries, told committee members that 115 complaints had been filed in four counties, all within one month. Nearly 40,000 acres of farmland, encompassing more than 400 fields, were being examined by investigators at that time.

Lawmakers are also touting legislation next year to increase fines for illegal use of pesticides and herbicides in Missouri. The currently penalty is a fine of $1,000 per contaminated field. A proposed bill by Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, would increase the fine to $10,000 a field.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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