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Next Steps: Agriculture tax credit extensions

As elected officials vacate Jefferson City and return to their families and jobs, The Missouri Times is taking a look at legislative priorities that may headline next year’s session. The “Next Steps” series will showcase certain legislative issues and take a look ahead at what could come next.

Further growth to Missouri’s vital agriculture industry could be stifled by the lapsing of several tax credits, according to Sen. Denny Hoskins

Hoskins, a Republican member of the Senate Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee, sponsored an attempt to renew a series of tax credits through 2027 that failed to make it to the floor. He also handled a parallel House bill that stalled during the turbulent final days of session

The New Generation credit grants a maximum of $15,000 or half the cash investment into a new facility with 12 members or less. The Meat Processing credit allows 25 percent of taxes paid on expansion or modernization efforts up to $75,000. Finally, the Agricultural Product Utilization Contributor Tax Credit grants an eligible applicant up to 100 percent of a contribution. 

Those three programs, offered by the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA), are set to expire at the end of the year.

Hoskins intends to tackle the issue from multiple angles in the coming year by filing the extension as a standalone bill as well as part of an omnibus tax credit measure similar to last year’s attempt. 

“These credits are very important to the agriculture industry; they ensure farmers can invest in technology and promote economic growth,” Hoskins told The Missouri Times. “I was very disappointed to see it held up this year, but I expect to see continued support from my colleagues and ag groups next session.”

The legislature renewed the Next Generation Tax Credit and other programs in 2016 through a bill sponsored by then-Sen. Mike Parson. A farmer himself, Parson has continued to identify agriculture and workforce development as priorities of his administration

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, a fellow Republican who sponsored his own attempt to extend the sunset through 2026, also committed to tackling the credits and other agriculture issues next year. 

Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn joined agriculture groups, including the Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Farm Bureau, in the push for extensions this year. BJ Tanksley, director of legislative affairs for the Farm Bureau, touted the importance of the tax credits before the General Assembly numerous times. 

“The ag community is united in wanting to renew these tax credits,” Tanksley previously told The Missouri Times. “They’ve played a big role in agriculture as we know it in the state of Missouri — some of the recent successes from them include the ethanol and biodiesel industry in Missouri, where these types of programs have allowed producers and investors to come together and really grow the industry in a way that may not be able to happen otherwise.”

Despite the push to renew the programs, Tanksley said agriculture groups supported the idea of a sunset provision to allow the legislature to reconsider the necessity of the credits every few years. 

Tax credits and incentives were a recurring subject among both legislators and witnesses before the Joint Committee on Agriculture when it convened earlier this month to discuss next session’s priorities. 

Rep. Rick Francis, who sponsored the House version and sits on the committee, also committed to pursuing their extension and urged Parson to call lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session to pass the bill earlier this year. 

Hoskins’ latest wide-ranging proposition included a reboot of the Wood Energy Tax Credit that expired last year and would have created ethanol and biodiesel tax credits, other programs that garnered the support of ag groups during session but failed to make it to the Senate floor for perfection. 

With ample support among legislators and agriculture organizations, Hoskins hoped to see the tax credits extended in 2022. 

“I believe these tax credits are vital for agriculture and economic growth in Missouri, and I hope to see them succeed next session without getting bogged down,” Hoskins said. “I expect agriculture groups to continue their support and help get these programs extended this year.”