Feb 11, 2020 7:00 AM

Missouri ag agency has backlog of Dicamba drift complaints

Posted Feb 11, 2020 7:00 AM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri agriculture officials asking for funding to hire more staff to address a backlog of nearly 600 complaints from farmers who claim dicamba-based herbicide drift has damaged their crops.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture last week asked state lawmakers for money to hire four investigators and two staff members to review the cases, some of which date back to 2016, St. Louis Public Radio reported.

“We had a team that was the right size for an average year of around 100 complaints, and the number of (dicamba complaints) coming in has been the No. 1 complicating factor,” said Sami Jo Freeman, the agriculture department’s spokeswoman.

Farmers across the country have complained that dicamba drifts from other fields and damages their crops, particularly soybeans. In Missouri, most of the damage has been in southeastern counties.

Farmers have been using dicamba for more than 50 years but complaints increased in 2016 after Monsanto released dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans, which led to increased use of dicamba-based herbicides.

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Feb 11, 2020 7:00 AM
Ex-Kan. prison lab instructor wants sex crime conviction thrown out
Tomas Co photo Texas County

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor who was found guilty earlier this month of one count of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate is asking a judge to throw out the conviction.

Tomas Co was convicted on one charge and found not guilty of five other charges alleging he abused female inmates working in the dental lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The conviction was for a woman who said Co touched the inside of her knee and thigh.

In a motion filed Friday, Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, argued that type of touching doesn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also asks Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios to acquit Co based on insufficient evidence, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Joseph said he also plans to seek probation for Co, rather than the 31 to 136 months of prison time he is facing.

District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office would file arguments in response to the defense motion.

Inmates in the dental lab complained for five years about alleged sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Co, who was dismissed in December 2018.