Overwhelmingly, lawmakers in the Missouri House believe that farmers who misuse herbicides on crops and orchards should have to pay up.
On Thursday, they passed House Bill 662, 147-8. The measure would allow the Department of Agriculture to fine first-time violators up to $1,000 for each affected acre. Repeat offenders would have to pay up to $2,000 an acre.
The current fine is $1,000 per incident, regardless of the number of acres impacted. That’s too small to be an effective deterrent, said House bill sponsor Don Rone, R-Portageville.
The Senate is considering a similar bill, though fines would be $10,000 per incident.
The Department of Agriculture saw more than 120 complaints last summer over illegal pesticide spraying in the Missouri Bootheel. More than 400 fields, encompassing nearly 40,000 acres of peaches, cotton, corn and soybeans, were contaminated by misuse and illegal spraying of the pesticide dicamba.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio