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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

New Madrid County Man and Farm Indicted on Illegally Applying Dicamba on Crops

Cape Girardeau – Bobby David Lowrey, 51, of Parma, MO, and Lowrey & Lowrey Inc. were indicted on November 13, 2018 for illegally applying Dicamba to crops.

According to the indictment, Bobby David Lowrey owned and operated Lowrey Farms.  In the calendar year 2016, Lowrey Farms, under the management of Bobby David Lowrey, engaged in the cultivation of cotton and soybean crops on approximately 6,700 acres over numerous fields and plots located in the Eastern District of Missouri.  The soybean and cotton crops planted on Lowrey Farms in 2016 were genetically modified to be resistant to the pesticide dicamba.   Dicamba is a broadleaf herbicide used to kill unwanted weeds.  The dicamba-based pesticide product was not approved for post-planting application to cotton crops and had limitations on its soybean application.

On multiple occasions in 2016, under the direction of Bobby David Lowrey, dicamba-based pesticides were applied at Lowrey Farms post-planting to cotton and to non-mature soybean crops prior to the approved preharvest application interval.  Multiple farmers with crops growing in the vicinity of soybean and cotton fields or plots cultivated by Lowrey Farms reported damage to their crops in May and June of 2016 consistent with drift from the use of dicamba-based pesticides applied on Lowrey Farms.  In response to numerous reports of crop damage in the vicinity of Lowrey Farms, Missouri Department of Agriculture responded to the area in late June 2016.  Investigators with MDA requested to meet with Bobby David Lowrey and asked Lowrey Farms to provide current spray application records for cotton and soybean crops. 

On several dates in 2016, Bobby David Lowrey made false statements to investigators and provided fraudulent documentation to investigators certifying that dicamba-based products had only been applied during burndown applications.  In truth, Bobby David Lowrey knew he had provided altered documents to investigators to hide the fact that dicamba-based products had been used at Lowrey Farms outside of the application guidelines.

If convicted, Bobby David Lowrey faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000.  In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.  The Indictment alleges forty-nine instances of misapplication of a pesticide, a false statement and three acts of obstruction of justice.

“Although weed killers like Dicamba have been around for decades, it is critical that applicators follow manufacturer instructions when applying them,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez.   “The misuse of this product has resulted in significant crop damage at neighboring farms.  Yesterday’s indictment shows that EPA and its law enforcement partners will do what it takes to ensure the safe and legal use of herbicides.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Agricultural.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

Topic(s): 
Environment
Updated November 20, 2018