Arkansas fines Missouri farmer $105K for illegal herbicide

Associated Press
FILE - In this July 11, 2017, file photo, farmer Reed Storey shows the damage to one of his soybean plants in Marvell, Ark. The Arkansas Plant Board fined Jeffrey Todd, a Missouri farmer, with $105,000 for using an herbicide when it was banned in the state because farmers say it harms some plants. The board’s hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, concluded that Todd had 11 violations involving dicamba application on a field he farmed east of Piggott, near the Arkansas-Missouri border.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Plant Board fined a Missouri farmer $105,000 for using a banned herbicide on an Arkansas field, which is the largest such fine since the ban was enacted.

The board concluded at a hearing Wednesday that Jeffrey Todd, of Clarkton, Missouri, had 11 violations involving dicamba application on a field he farmed east of Piggott, near the Arkansas-Missouri border. The board determined that Todd sprayed dicamba that moved off target, damaging nearby crops.

In 2018, Arkansas banned the use of dicamba from mid-April through the end of that October. Farmers said at the time that the herbicide drifts onto crops where it's not applied and causes damage, particularly to soybeans. Todd's dicamba applications took place between June and August 2018, the board said.

In November 2017, Missouri also banned the use of a dicamba on cotton and soybeans after June 1 in 10 of that state's southeastern counties.

Todd didn't attend the hearing, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette didn't reach Todd for comment on Wednesday.

The state issued the maximum fine of $25,000 for each of four violations: two counts of spraying dicamba in a way that caused it to move off target and two counts of causing "significant" damage to other crops, amounting to an egregious violation.

The board also fined him $1,000 for each of five other violations: two counts of failing to provide spray-application records and one count each of failure to keep those records, not showing that he completed an online training in Arkansas in 2018 to spray dicamba and for lacking a license to spray herbicides in Arkansas.

Michael Greenway, a field inspector, testified at the hearing that he first noticed signs of dicamba use and damage around Todd's fields in June 2018.

Greenway said he found evidence of dicamba damage on 80 acres (32 hectares) of soybeans just north of where Todd had sprayed. Greenway testified that he contacted Todd, who initially denied the spraying. Greenway said Todd later admitted that dicamba and Roundup had been used.