This is my "I'm so proud to serve with Rep. Don Rone" section!
House Bill 662, Sponsored by Rep. Don Rone, is meant to stop the illegal use of herbicides.
Many farmers in our region lost an average of 35 percent of their crops when neighboring farmers used an outdated Dicamba product. Wind and temperature changes caused the product to spread onto nearby fields. Because the product was drifting onto fields not planted with seeds resistant to it, those crops were damaged. At least 150 farmers were impacted by the illegal use of the product.
The legislation we approved would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a fine to any individual who knowingly applies a herbicide to a crop for which the herbicide is not labeled for use. Under current law, the fine is a flat $1,000, which we feel is not a strong enough deterrent. Under the bill, the department could issue a fine of up to $10,000 per violation when a product is spread illegally. The fine would escalate to up to $25,000 per violation for those who repeatedly break the new law. The money collected from any fines would go to the local school district in which the violation occurred.
Our bill would also give the Department of Agriculture additional powers to investigate claims of illegal herbicide use. The department would be able to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of certain records related to the misuse of herbicides. Farmers penalized for illegal use would be liable to the department for its expenses and for personal property affected.
The bill includes an emergency clause, which would make it effective immediately upon being signed by our governor.