Baseball is a magnificent game. From the bright lights, rich traditions, and smell of hot dogs found at a big-league stadium to the loud pop of a mitt in the backyard, the sport is ingrained in all of us. But to me, while a game by rule ends after nine innings, the chance to savor a pace not dictated by a clock always reminds me of simpler, less demanding times.
Unfortunately, hard deadlines exist throughout much of daily life, and the final bell of the spring 2021 Missouri legislative session left the Missouri Farm Bureau wanting just a little more time. More time to allow cooler heads to prevail. More time to bring people back to the table and discuss reasonable and fair solutions.
In the months leading up to Friday, May 14, we worked with lawmakers to pass important legislation that have been long-term goals of our organization. We supported a bill that increases penalties for releasing or holding feral hogs and helped develop language to hinder those interested in undermining eradication efforts throughout the state. We stood alongside many organizations in efforts to increase transportation funding in Missouri for the first time in 25 years, allowing for better roads and safer bridges while also allowing a simple refund option for taxpayers if they desire. We partnered with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and other entities to help push through important pesticide applicator training for farmers and ranchers.
Missouri also adopted a statewide prescription drug monitoring program as a valuable tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Members have shared personal stories with us over the years about why this program is important to them, and we commend Sen. Holly Rehder for being steadfast in carrying that legislation.
But the final days of session saw a tired and frustrated legislative body fail to take up one of our top priorities this spring – eminent domain reform. We were optimistic this issue would be heard on the Senate floor in the final week, but that opportunity never happened. Landowners in Missouri deserved that chance, and our members were phenomenal all spring in showing their support. The ultimate government power for eminent domain should not be given for private gain, and we are grateful for the passion displayed by Rep. Mike Haffner and Sen. Jason Bean on this issue. With wind-rich states to our west and energy-hungry states to our east, Missouri will simply not be a transmission superhighway for the Green New Deal.
We will continue to work to advance other issues that didn’t get across home plate. These other major asks of agriculture included MASBDA tax credits and both biodiesel and ethanol incentives.
The Missouri Farm Bureau exists to serve you, the hardworking men and women of this incredible state. Our membership drives our policies, and we do what we do because of you. Our legislative action center is available year-round to aid in contacting your local lawmakers, and we encourage you to continue to be active in your home county. The spring 2022 legislative session is only seven months away, and we will be ready to step back into the batter’s box on day one.
Garrett Hawkins, a farmer from Appleton City, is the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.