JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Earlier this week, Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, requested a hearing on illegal use of herbicides in southeast Missouri. Now, the House Select Committee on Agriculture will convene one.
Rone had been concerned that more than 100 complaints were filed with the Department of Agriculture of pesticide drift. Farmers who had planted dicamba resistant crops had begun using dicamba herbicides, but during the application they damaged neighboring fields.
“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,” Rone said. “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.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, granted the authority for an interim hearing Wednesday morning. No date has been decided yet.
“This has rapidly become a very serious issue,” he said. “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.”
Agriculture Committee Chairman Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, said he wanted to hear from the EPA.
“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,” he said.
Rone also said he expects to file legislation about the matter for consideration during the 2017 session.
“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.”