Missouri farmer charged with illegally using weed killer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A southeast Missouri farmer has been indicted on federal charges of illegally applying a weed killer blamed for drifting and damaging crops in neighboring fields.
A 53-count federal indictment was announced Tuesday against Bobby David Lowrey, 51, of Parma. He is accused of illegally applying the herbicide dicamba on his cotton and soybean crops outside of Environmental Protection Agency guidelines , and lying to investigators when confronted about it.
Lowrey does not have a listed attorney who can speak on his behalf. A phone number for his home is no longer in service.
Dicamba has long been on the market, but problems have occurred in recent years as farmers began to plant new seeds engineered to be resistant to the herbicide. Dicamba can easily evaporate after being applied and can drift on the wind into neighboring fields.
“Although weed killers like Dicamba have been around for decades, it is critical that applicators follow manufacturer instructions when applying them,” EPA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez said in a statement. “The misuse of this product has resulted in significant crop damage at neighboring farms.”
The indictment said crops planted by Lowrey in 2016, which cover 6,700 acres, were modified to be resistant to dicamba. Federal prosecutors say Lowrey didn’t follow the rules and then lied when the Missouri Department of Agriculture investigated after neighboring farmers reported crop damage.
Lowrey faces 49 counts of misapplication of a pesticide, three counts of obstruction of justice, and one count of making a false statement. He could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Associated Press reporter Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.