Securing Our Farms
Missouri is blessed with fertile farmland and hardworking people who know how to put it to good use. According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, our state is home to more than 95,000 farms, the second most of any state in the country and behind only Texas. Many of these farms average around 291 acres each, and all told, they cover more than 27.8 million acres of our state. Now, that’s a lot of land, and with that land comes a lot of responsibility. After all, the safety and security of farming operations impact not only the farmers working the land, but the livestock and those who enjoy the fruits of their labor too.
With that in mind, the Senate’s Agriculture committee recently heard and approved House Bill 574. This bill restricts who has the authority to inspect agriculture facilities to only include the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the USDA, the county sheriff and other agencies with certain statutory and regulatory authority, unless requested by the owner. With the clarity provided by HB 574, farmers will have a better idea of who is (and who isn’t) allowed to inspect their facilities. Far too many times, I believe individuals without the best of intentions have wandered onto farms, aiming to “inspect” the facility when they have no grounds to do so. House Bill 574 hopes to keep these individuals off of Missouri’s farmlands, while maintaining high levels of safety with inspections by qualified professionals. Ultimately, HB 574 protects farmers and their livelihoods from trespassers and ensures the important work of farming continues unimpeded in our state.
In addition to HB 574, the Ag committee also discussed several other bills this week. House Bill 369, a companion to my Senate Bill 301, creates the Prescribed Burning Act. These bills are meant to promote the safe, responsible use of controlled burns by licensed prescribed burn professionals. Another bill considered by the committee was House Bill 357, which would allow Missourians who make certain homemade foods to sell their goods over the internet to others in the state. This is seen as one way to help modernize our state’s cottage industry laws, and help folks make a living at home. Lastly, the committee heard testimony on House Bill 529, establishing the Missouri Made Fuels Act. This bill requires diesel fuel sold in the state to contain a certain level of biodiesel during certain months throughout the year.
As you can see, the Ag committee is busy promoting our state’s most important industry and ensuring it stays strong for generations to come. It is an honor to chair this committee and to serve the people of the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.