Missouri farm bills about more than deer

Monday, June 30, 2014

CHESTERFIELD, Mo -- The two omnibus ag bills, referred to as "Missouri's farm bills" by some, now before Governor Jay Nixon affect more of the state's economy than just deer.

"Some media outlets have missed the huge widespread economic importance of House Bill 1326 and Senate Bill 506 that were passed with strong bi-partisan support by the Missouri General Assembly," President of the Missouri Dairy Association Larry Purdom said. "Any controversy on the oversight of farmed white tail deer shifting from the Missouri Conservation Commission to the Missouri Department of Agriculture is completely unfounded. The facts are the Missouri Department of Agriculture already does all of the testing for disease in farm deer. In addition, these farm deer are the property of the farm owners, not the Conservation Commission.

These bills contain several important issues to Missouri's farmers and ranchers including:

-- Enacts the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act, which is an innovative program that dovetails in with the new Dairy Title of the Federal Farm Bill

-- Increases the hauling limits for livestock on Missouri highways

-- Modifies provisions relating to evidence of financial responsibility for certified commercial pesticide applicators

-- Enables Missouri cattle producers the opportunity to vote whether or not they want to increase their investment in the Missouri beef checkoff

-- Extends the equine liability waiver to all livestock

-- Continues the large animal veterinarian student loan program

"With the loss of dairy farms continuing in Missouri at an alarming rate due to drought and poor margins, the pressure of finding local milk for our 15 dairy processing plants has reached a critical stage.

"A University of Missouri study showed in 2011 that Missouri's dairy product manufacturing industry revenues translated into statewide total economic output worth $7.7 billion. When you include the jobs, created at the farm level and with additional suppliers, a total of 23,297 jobs were supported providing $1.2 billion in labor income to Missourians in 2011.

"Missouri's gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.0 billion larger due to the value added by Missouri's dairy product manufacturing industries," Purdom said.

Missouri Cattlemen's Association President Jim McCann said Governor Nixon has an opportunity to bolster Missouri agriculture.

"We encourage the governor to support cattlemen and all of agriculture by swiftly signing into law both HB 1306 and SB 506," McCann said. "Agriculture is the steam engine of this state's economy and the governor needs to do everything possible to keep family farmers and ranchers in business."

Twelve Missouri agriculture groups have urged Governor Nixon to "stand with Missouri agriculture" and sign these bills. These organizations included FCS Financial, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Dairy Association, Missouri Deer Association, Missouri Egg Council, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, Missouri Pork Producers Association, Missouri Poultry Federation and the Missouri Soybean Association.