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Missouri farmers, ranchers gather in Capitol


Missouri Farm Bureau members here from legislators including President Pro Tem Ron Richard and House Speaker Todd Richardson

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Agriculturalists in the Show-Me State gathered in Jefferson City to hear from speakers, are briefed on key legislative issues and visit with legislators.

Tuesday was Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual legislative day where farmers and ranchers throughout the state bring their concerns directly to lawmakers.

“We are here to make our voices heard,” said Erica Schwoeppe, a farmer in Franklin County. “We are here to meet legislators and talk the hot-button bills.”

Transportation funding, broadband access and property rights top this years agenda for the Missouri Farm Bureau. All of their policy efforts start at the ground level and are voted upon by members at their annual meeting in December.

Speaking to the members in the Capitol Rotunda, B.J. Tanksley, MFB state legislative affairs director, urged the members to fight for broadband access.

“[Rural Missouri] deserves the same kinds of technology as every other Missourian,” said Tanksley. He told members that it’s not just entertainment value, it is economic. Broadband is essential to business opportunities and it opens access to healthcare and education.

Rep. Tracy McCreery, the ranking minority member on the House Agricultural Policy Committee, talked rural broadband access when addressing Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.

“We are painfully aware of the inadequacy of broadband,” said McCreery. “Thanks to the Farm Bureau I have attended several meetings out at headquarters where I have learned some creative things we can to do help the expansion.”

She assured listeners that the General Assembly is doing what they can to move the issue forward and they are committed to doing what they can.

McCreery was just one of several legislators that step up on stage to address Missouri’s farmers and ranchers. President Pro Tem Ron Richard, House Speaker Todd Richardson, Rep. Jay Houghton and Sens. Brian Munzlinger and Mike Kehoe all mentioned the importance of agriculture to the Show-Me State.

“Agricultural goods play an important role in our economy,” said Richardson.

In 2016, agriculture contributed $33 billion in value-added to Missouri’s economy. More than 10 percent of jobs in the state are in the agricultural industry.

Munzlinger told listeners it is “up to every one of us” to tell the story of agriculturalist and Kehoe encouraged members to put a face to the people who represent Missouri’s number one industry.

“People don’t understand what you go through, what your families go through every day to produce the products that you have, that they just conveniently find on a grocery store shelf,” said Kehoe.

“A quote I learned from the Farm Burea and have not forgotten is ‘In rural Missouri, we just don’t know our neighbors, we help our neighbors.'”