This past legislative session was truly a success for agriculture, and acted as swan song for Congressman Jason Smith who had been a champion for such issues throughout his time in the Missouri House. Undoubtedly the most paramount piece of legislation truly agreed and finally passed was [House Joint Resolutions] 7 & 11 — otherwise known as “Right to Farm.” Very rarely does legislation have such widespread support from the power players in agriculture like this future ballot measure did. Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattleman’s Association and Missouri Farmer’s Care are only a few of the organizations that rallied their members to push legislators for passage.
The other clear winner from the past legislative session in regards to agriculture was its next generation. Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R-Johnson County, and Senate Bill 17, sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Lewis County, are both sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk waiting for his mark of approval. Governor Nixon signed Senate Bill 16, also sponsored by Munzlinger, into law May 10.
SB 9 would allow University of Missouri Extension Councils — except for any council located in St. Louis County — to form extension districts made up of cooperating counties for the purpose of funding extension programming. These extension councils are directly responsible for funding 4-H programming within their counties and are funded primarily by allocation of local tax dollars. However, some small rural counties by themselves have been unable to generate enough support to keep these vital programs available for children and their families. SB 9 would allow the opportunity for several counties or districts to join together, share resources and keep their doors open for these communities.
SB 17, among other things as a result of efforts from Rep. Mike Thomson, R-Maryville, that amended and sculpted the legislation in the committee process, creates the Career and Technical Education Student Protection Act and establishes the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council. This legislation was a direct result of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s release of the Missouri School Improvement 5, which strips the minimum requirements for career and technical education.
While supporters of the proposal said this act would open the lines of communication between career and technical education proponents and DESE, the underlying protection for students involved with the National FFA Organization is what drove the bill to the finish line. The advisory council created would consist of 11 members, three of which would be current or retired career and technical education teachers who serve or have served as an advisor to a career and technical education student organization. During the committee process, many FFA advisors were present in the Capitol to testify in support of the bill.
SB 16 simply exempts farm work performed by children from child labor requirements as long as the work being done is on their family farm. The Obama Administration was quelled in their attempt to restrict child farm work on the Federal level last year with help from the American Farm Bureau. With the help of Sen. Munzlinger, the proposal to keep children from learning important skills and gaining experience here in Missouri will not be implemented through administrative rules from the Labor Department. Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, championed this legislation in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, is a freshman representative from rural, northeast Missouri. He owns a law firm, McGaugh Law Offices, and was previously elected as the City Attorney for Carrollton during 2012.