Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst testified before the State Senate Agriculture Committee today in support of the SB 12, the Agriculture Omnibus Bill. The farmer from Westboro said the legislation overall will provide stability and flexibility to Missouri agriculture.
Farm Bureau supports several major provisions in the bill, including the Dairy Revitalization Act, the increased livestock truck weights, repeal of language prohibiting Missouri beef producers from instituting a state checkoff, and moving the cap on foreign-owned farmland down from 1 to one-half percent.
The Dairy Revitalization Act is a critical component of the bill for Missouri dairy farmers. “Growing up, I never thought the day would come when there would be less than 100,000 dairy cows in the state of Missouri,” Hurst told the committee. “But here we are. We now import milk for consumption.” A proposed Dairy Revitalization Fund would assist with some of the financial burden through a dairy producer margin insurance premium assistance program. A Dairy Scholars Program would provide monetary support to educate the next generation of dairy farmers, and an annual study would be required by the University of Missouri’s commercial agriculture program to find ways to enhance the state’s dairy industry.
Hurst said maximum truck weights for hauling livestock need to be increased. “Surrounding states (Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska) have increased maximum weights for trucks hauling livestock to 85,000 pounds or greater on state roads and highways…this causes inefficiencies when traveling across state lines and puts our producers at a disadvantage,” Hurst testified. Missouri’s maximum weight limit is currently 80,000 pounds.
On legislation to control foreign ownership of land, Hurst said Farm Bureau members support a complete prohibition on foreign-owned farmland, but believe the compromise in the Omnibus Agriculture Bill is a start. “Missouri Farm Bureau supports this legislation as a whole and will work to see it passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor,” Hurst concluded in his remarks to the committee.
The Omnibus Agriculture Bill is expected to pass because a provision to classify captive deer was removed. The Governor vetoed similar legislation last session because of the provision.