Legislature: Missouri bill may attract dairymen and help cattlemen

Friday, May 23, 2014

Missouri dairy farmers have been hoping for action on a piece of state legislation that would help pay their premiums on the federal farm bill Margin Protection Program. The program pays benefits when the margin between feed costs and milk prices threatens profitability. Missouri Dairy Association Vice Chairman Lloyd Gunter said the legislation considered by Missouri state lawmakers would provide incentive for the state's dairy farmers to buy the insurance.

"What dairy farmers we have right now we need to keep, because there's about 6,000 jobs viable to the state of Missouri, we've got 15 processing plants in the state of Missouri, Dairy Farmers of America is located in Kansas City," Gunter told Brownfield Ag News. "We want to keep them in the state because they're very viable to the state of Missouri."

As of late afternoon of Wednesday, May 14, SB 506 -- in which the dairy language is contained --was passed by the Missouri House. Meanwhile, the Missouri Senate was scheduled to consider HB 1326, which contains identical language.

Money used to help Missouri dairy producers buy Margin Protection insurance is to be leveraged from tax revenue generated by existing dairy product sales.

The number of dairy farms and milk cows in Missouri has steadily declined resulting in half of the milk consumed in the state being brought in from other dairy producing states. It's hoped that the incentives to purchase Margin Protection insurance will attract dairy farmers.

SB 506 contains several other provisions for agriculture, including extension of the equine liability waiver to include livestock activities. It would also increase hauling limits for livestock from 80,000 pounds to 85,500 pounds. The bill also allows Missouri beef producers to vote in a checkoff referendum if an enhancement is proposed by the Missouri Beef Industry Council.

The senate measure was also supported by the Missouri Cattlemen's Association (MCA).

"We have a lot of priorities wrapped into one bill," said Mike Deering, executive director of the MCA. "We commend the 105 legislators who sided with Missouri's farm and ranch families." MCA President Jim McCann said Wednesday's vote is a win for MCA and the entire beef industry. The legislation now moves to the Missouri Senate for consideration.

"We encourage the senate to move quickly on this important legislation," said McCann, in comments prepared for a news release. "We feel confident the senate will side with agriculture and pass this bill. We urge the Governor to support Missouri beef producers by signing SB 506 into law."