Where does milk come from? The answer to that question will vary, depending on a person’s age and where they were raised. Increasingly, Missourians are disconnected from the farm and many young people today have no understanding of how a gallon of milk ends up in their grocer’s dairy case.
Senate Bill 218, which was perfected on the floor of the Senate this week, seeks to increase awareness and understanding about agriculture and food production among children in Missouri. The legislation instructs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop a pilot program that incorporates real-life agricultural examples into age-appropriate classroom curriculum in elementary schools.
Children who grow up on farms and in rural communities can participate in after-school activities offered by FFA and 4-H, but many other students never gain an understanding of the importance of agriculture, Missouri’s No. 1 industry. This legislation is intended to encourage awareness of agriculture at an earlier age and make agricultural concepts part of the overall learning experience. The program, which would begin with the 2020-2021 term, would be entirely voluntary and involve no statewide mandates on school districts.
During floor debate on SB 218, an amendment was offered to also encourage DESE to include age-appropriate information about mental health and suicide prevention in Missouri’s elementary schools. Having recently witnessed how timely intervention helped a classmate of my daughter overcome an emotional crisis, I was sympathetic to the aims of the amendment. The Senate substitute for SB 218 will move forward with both measures combined.
Another bill that I sponsored also underwent significant changes during discussions in the Senate chamber. Senate Bill 219 began as a relatively simple measure to streamline routine and regular accreditation of certified public accountants. The version passed by the Senate this week incorporated a significant amendment that establishes the “Taxpayer Protection Act.” The expanded legislation imposes increased accountability on paid tax preparers in Missouri.
A new seat for a familiar face
This week, I was pleased to reintroduce Sherry Jones of Dawn to the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. Ms. Jones is no stranger to the committee, as she already is a member of the Missouri State Fair Board, serving an expired term in a designated at-large slot. Ms. Jones, who operates a row crop and cow/calf operation with her husband, has been appointed to fill a board slot that is reserved for active farmers.
A graduate of Central Missouri State University, Ms. Jones has served on the State Fair Board since 2012. She also is a director for FCS Financial, is vice president (and past president) of the Livingston County Farm Bureau Board and serves on the board of the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority. I am pleased to welcome this distinguished resident of the 21st Senatorial District to another term guiding the Missouri State Fair.
I welcomed a number of visitors to your Missouri Senate office this week.
Ken McAninch, the human resources and information technology director for Swisher Acquisition of Warrensburg visited the Capitol as a participant in Buy MO Day. Everyone who cuts grass throughout the summer owes McAninch’s employer a nod of thanks. Max Swisher, the founder of what is now Swisher Acquisition, is credited with inventing the self-propelled lawnmower, and later developed the zero-turn mower.
Also this week, I had the honor of meeting with several promising young college students who visited the Capitol as part of Undergraduate Research Day. These students, from universities across the state, each worked with faculty researchers to conduct ground-breaking research in their fields of study. Descriptions of each student’s work were on display in the Capitol Rotunda. It was impossible to visit with these young scholars and not be impressed.
Also, this week, I had an opportunity as chairman of the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee to visit with a delegation of Chamber of Commerce officials from major metropolitan areas throughout Missouri. I enjoyed discussing economic development and workforce development with the Chamber delegation.
Finally, a group of Missouri Realtors members from the 21st Senatorial District visited the Capitol this week. It was my pleasure to meet with these real estate professionals and welcome them to the Senate chamber.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.