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Opinion: The State Fair: A proud tradition and celebration of Missouri agriculture

Every year, thousands of Missourians travel to Sedalia for the State Fair. For many families, it’s an annual tradition, and it’s pretty easy to see why. You can sample delicious food, listen to great concerts, and see what makes Missouri’s farmers and ranchers the best in the world.

As the son of dairy farmers, I know firsthand how hard farmers and ranchers work to feed and fuel the world. With global food demand expected to double in the next 30-40 years, Missouri farmers and ranchers are well-positioned to meet that demand and benefit from the economic opportunities that come with it. In Washington, I’m focused on making sure our farmers, ranchers, and businesses have the tools they need to not only compete but lead the way in a global economy.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt

One of my top priorities has been expanding access to broadband in rural areas. We’re moving in the right direction, but nearly one-third of rural Missourians still don’t have access to high-speed internet. For a farmer, access to broadband can mean a 15-minute update instead of a five-hour wait when machinery isn’t working or isn’t working right. For a student, it can mean researching an assignment from home rather than driving miles to a place that offers wi-fi. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve advocated for the ReConnect Program which has provided nearly $200 million in funding to Missouri over the past two years, amounting to about 20 percent of all the support provided nationwide. We’ve also received nearly $255 million through the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction, about 17 percent of the total amount awarded nationwide, the most of any state.

The infrastructure bill that just passed the Senate makes additional investments in broadband and physical infrastructure that will boost our state’s competitiveness. One of the biggest economic advantages we have in Missouri is our location. Situated right in the center of the country, Missouri is a hub for our nation’s highways, railways, and waterways. That’s why a top priority of mine is strengthening our transportation system — from locks and dams along the Mississippi River to the roads, bridges, ports, and airports that connect communities large and small. 

The world price of grain is the market price less what it costs to get it there. The better the transportation network, the more competitive every Missouri industry will be, especially agriculture and manufacturing. The infrastructure bill authorizes an estimated $8.2 billion for Missouri’s roads and highways over the next five years and makes additional investments in areas like airport improvements and clean drinking water. 

Our economic competitiveness is also significantly impacted by the regulatory environment which is why I’ve fought massive regulations that impose huge costs with little to no benefit. I worked to block the Democrats’ Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS) which would have put more than 99 percent of Missouri under the jurisdiction of Washington bureaucrats. Now, the Biden administration is once again moving toward the same kind of power grab we saw under the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule — but potentially even worse. The Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the WOTUS rule, takes a much smarter approach to safeguard our clean water without imposing excessive, unnecessary burdens on Missourians. I signed onto legislation this month that would prevent Democrats from reinstating their misguided, overreaching WOTUS rule.

I also opposed the Democrats’ so-called Clean Power Plan, which would have amounted to an additional tax anytime someone flipped on a light switch, harvested a crop, or paid for groceries. Families are already facing higher costs due to inflation, and they can’t afford to pay more for the things they use every day. That’s also why I’m opposed to the $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree Democrats are planning to ram through Congress in the coming months. More spending has the potential to drive inflation up even further, and paying for it all with huge tax hikes, including an increase in the death tax, will hit farm families especially hard.

The State Fair offers us a unique opportunity to celebrate our hard-working Missouri farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to it every year. I always appreciate the advice I get from our ag industry leaders, and I’ll continue doing my part to ensure we have the right policies and resources in place to keep Missouri agriculture moving forward.