Crop Damage Liability Law on Mo. Governor’s Desk

April 30, 2007

Missouri farmers would stand a greater chance of getting reimbursed if their crops are accidentally destroyed under a bill sent to the governor.

The legislation changes the liability standard for crop damage or destruction. Under current law, a court must determine that a person knowingly damaged the crops. If so, the person must pay double the damages.

But some farmers think that’s not working.

Crops can be damaged by crop dusters who spray the wrong tract of land and out-of-control fires.

Sponsoring Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield, said it can be hard to prove whether someone’s conduct was intentional or accidental, so under current law the person who damaged the crops could walk away without owing anything.

Under the legislation, those who accidentally harm crops would have to pay farmers what the crops were worth. Those who intentionally harm crops would still have to pay double the damages.

The Senate passed the bill on a 27-2 vote last week, sending it to Gov. Matt Blunt. The House passed the measure 143-9 in early March. The crop damage bill is HB344.

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