Every December, Farm Bureau delegates from across the state vote on our policy for the next year. Every January, the Missouri Legislature arrives in Jefferson City for a new legislative session. Farm Bureau will be in the Capitol every day throughout the session, working to put our members’ policy into state law. It’s hard work getting bills through the legislature, but our track record has been good. Or as the Stones put it:
“You can’t always get what you want/but if you try sometimes, well you might find/you get what you need.”
So, here’s a short list of what we not only want, but need as well.
The Missouri Court of Appeals has given the go-ahead to Clean Line Grain Belt for their transmission line across north Missouri. That’s disappointing to those of us who care about the interests of property owners. We’ll be working this session to protect the landowners who’ll lose property if the line is built. If we and the legislators do our job right, we’ll also protect Missouri landowners from future projects that don’t take into account the interests of landowners.
One of the bright spots in the ag economy in the past few years has been agritourism. As farmers open their farms to the public, we’re finding that they need support from both local and state government. Most of the states surrounding Missouri have highway signage letting travelers know where farm attractions are located. We’d like to see Missouri do the same.
We’ll be working to expand the use of biodiesel in Missouri. Makes sense for Missouri agriculture, and is good for the environment as well.
The EPA has increased requirements for pesticide applicator licenses. We’ll need funding and legislation to comply with the new rules from Washington.
It’s time we capped the amount that productivity values for Missouri farmland can be increased in any one year. Present law would allow huge annual increases in the property tax that Missouri landowners pay.
We’ve had some good success on both the national and state level on improving rural broadband, but more can be done. Delegates at our annual meeting adopted several policies to improve and protect rural health care. This is an issue with broad support, and we’ll work together with other groups to stop the decline in access to health care seen by much of rural Missouri.
Initiative petitions are the final resort for Missouri citizens when the legislature refuses to act, and the right to petition our government in this manner is one Missouri Farm Bureau will always protect. But, changes in technology and funding have led to a ridiculous number of special interest ballot initiatives. Balance must be restored, and we’ll be working towards that goal.
Every legislative session is different, but in some ways they are always the same. We’ll have Missouri Farm Bureau members in the Capitol each week during the session, and our elected representatives will always listen to what our members have to say. Legislating takes time and compromise, and we don’t always get what we want. But if we do it right, we can get some satisfaction.
Blake Hurst, a farmer from Westboro, is the president of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.