Farmers caught using illegal herbicide could pay major fines

10 months 1 week 4 hours ago Friday, March 17 2017 Mar 17, 2017 Friday, March 17, 2017 5:55:00 PM CDT March 17, 2017 in Top Stories
By: Lauren Donovan, KOMU 8 News
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JEFFERSON CITY — A bill that could put farmers out of business for bad behavior awaits the signature of Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday. 

House Bill 662, if passed, would raise the penalty on farmers if they are caught using illegal herbicides. The fine for first-time offenders would increase to $10,000, nearly ten times the current rate. For second-time offenders, the fine is bumped up to $25,000.

Kevin Bradley, an associate professor at the University of Missouri, specializes in things weed and herbicide related. Bradley testified on behalf of the bill. 

Bradley explained the old system: "In the state of Missouri, if you got caught, you would be charged $1200, period — doesn't matter whether it's 500 acres or a 100 acres — which is not a deterrent."

Herbicide is the chemical that kills unwanted vegetation. According to the Missouri Farmer Today, in the summer of 2016, hundreds of complaints were filed to the Missouri Department of Agriculture for the off-label use of the herbicide dicamba. The Department of Agriculture refused to comment due to the pending nature of the bill. 

The bill passed swiftly through both the General Assembly and the Senate this past week. On Thursday it made it through the House with a vote of 139–18. The governor expressed his support and intent to sign in a tweet.

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