Investing in Agriculture and Our Rural Communities
Even though the 2022 legislative session came to a close in May, the work of the Legislature is never done. Lawmakers are always looking for new ways to improve our state and ensure it remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. For instance, on June 22, the Joint Committee on Agriculture met to discuss the economic impact of Missouri agriculture.
Agriculture is our state’s No. 1 industry, contributing $93.7 billion to our state’s economy. Naturally, an industry of this size is not without its challenges. Trade disputes, disease, rising prices and more can all have an impact on our farmers’ bottom lines, and Missouri must be able to respond to help our farmers navigate these challenges. The committee heard testimony on how economic tools such the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) tax credits are one of the ways our state can effectively support our state’s farmers.
Another challenge the committee discussed was the increasing age of our state’s farmers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, the average age of the Missouri farmer is now 59.4 years old. While it’s true that over the years Missouri agriculture has become more and more efficient, we still need people to take over the important work of cultivating farmland when older farmers retire. Investing in our rural communities will be one of the key ways we can make farming an attractive option for the next generation and help hardworking Missourians make their livelihoods there.
This hearing was just the start of the committee’s work this year. I look forward to working with my fellow committee members as we drill down on policy objectives to keep our state’s agricultural industry strong for years to come.
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.