ST. LOUIS — Almost one year ago, Mike Deering was brought on as the Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
The Association’s purpose is simple, he says: to protect and defend the cattle industry across the state.
“[We are here] to make sure that the farmers and ranchers in this state are forwarded the opportunity to pass their family farm along to the next generation,” Deering said. “It also comes down to being able to feed a growing global population and to keep these [farmers and ranchers] in business in order to do that.”
Looking back on the legislative session, Deering said the Association “faired fairly well” on the 32 bills — state and federal level — that it was in favor of.
“We maintain a vibrant career and technical education program here in the state and we’re keeping agriculture education and FFA programs intact,” Deering said.
Gov. Jay Nixon, however, did veto Senate Bill 9, which Deering said would have placed harsher penalties on cattle wrestling and cattle theft — a problem, he added, in southwest Missouri.
“It would have also have provided a fix to the animal abuse and neglect law in our state,” Deering said. “Just because cattle were getting out, we had farmers getting cited with animal abuse. We put some language forward and tried to get that fixed and stop that nonsense but the governor vetoed it.”
Deering said the Association is working with a bipartisan group of state legislators to attempt to override the veto.
“It got through [the] Senate with only one ‘no’ vote so I think we have a pretty good chance,” Deering said.
The Association is also working toward urging voters to vote yes on the “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment. Deering said it’s “kind of depressing” that farming, in his opinion, must be protected by the constitution.
He cited Section 35, which reads:
“That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”
“We’ve got to get this over the finish line,” Deering said.
Before joining the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Deering worked with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for seven years. He monitored regulation.
“[There were] regulations coming up out of the blue almost every day from the Environmental Protection Agency, but also off-the-wall regulations from the Department of Labor, who wanted to ban youth under the age of 16 from working on farms and ranches,” Deering said. “The Department of Transportation wanted every farmer and rancher to have a commercial driver’s license.”
Deering’s daily duties in Columbia, Mo., are to monitor regulations and legislation, but on the state level. Deering and others working at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association collect important and relevant information for farmers and ranchers as well as develop youth education and programming. A grassroots board of farmers and ranchers operates the association, he said.
“We’re their servants. We’re their hired hands. We do what needs to be done and we take care of things that they don’t’ have time to do,” Deering said. “They don’t have time to monitor every little piece of legislation — every new piece of regulation proposed by the Department of Natural Resources or EPA or whoever it might be and that’s what we do.”
Brittany Ruess was a reporter for The Missouri Times and the SEMO Times, and a graduate of Webster University.