Plowing Ahead with Priorities
There’s an old Irish proverb that says “You will never plow a field if you only ever turn it over in your mind.” And it’s true. There’s no substitute for hard work, no matter how good of an idea it is – especially here in the Legislature. Lawmaking takes time, effort and at times, a whole lot of patience to things done, just as it does in the field. It’s part of the reason I’m proud to see the General Assembly plowing ahead with a priority piece of legislation meant to strengthen our state’s No. 1 industry.
House Bill 1720 is an omnibus agriculture bill that was recently passed by the Missouri Senate. House Bill 1720 includes legislation I sponsored to change the family farm breeding livestock loan program and make it easier for our state’s small farmers to use. The bill raises the income cap to participate in the program, as well as removes the restriction that limits farmers to only one loan per family. All told, I believe this legislation will provide our state’s small farmers the flexibility and access to vital resources they need to stay competitive in today’s economy. House Bill 1720 also creates the Specialty Agriculture Crops Act, which will require the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) to establish a specialty agricultural crops loan program for family farmers.
Speaking of MASBDA, HB 1720 renews several MASBDA tax credit programs that expired at the end of 2021, such as the New Generation Cooperative Incentive tax credit program. House Bill 1720 also restarts a number of other effective ag tax credit programs such as the Meat Processing Facility Investment tax credit and more. Among other provision, the bill also streamlines the regulation and monitoring of anhydrous ammonia, which I sponsored as a standalone bill in the Senate.
While I believe HB 1720 contains many good policies aimed at helping our farmers and strengthening the ag industry as a whole, I will say one part of the bill I have some concerns about is the so-called Rural Jobs Development Act. This portion of the bill would provide a tax credit for certain investments made in businesses located in our state’s rural areas. Unfortunately, the program’s initial definition of “rural” would have included some cities with a population of almost 40,000 people. Luckily, I was able to amend the legislation to ensure that it helped actual rural areas, but I still have some concerns about the effectiveness of the program.
Now, as any good farmer can attest, the work is never really done. Since the Senate made several changes to HB 1720, it now heads back to the House of Representatives for further consideration. That said, I’m confident we’ll continue moving forward with this important bill and be able to get it to the governor’s desk here in the next few weeks.
As always, I am honored to serve the citizens of the 6th Senatorial District. Please feel free to contact my office 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.