Committed to Agriculture
In the weeks following the adjournment of the General Assembly in May, I’ve had an opportunity to travel around the 21st Senatorial District, as well as other parts of the state. As I drive down lettered county highways and back-country roads I continuously see farmers hard at work so the rest of us can enjoy wholesome and affordable food. I see fathers and sons working side by side to prepare machinery for the season ahead. I watch livestock producers tending their animals and farmers tilling the soil in the setting sun. These are all reassuring sights, and they give me confidence that we will continue to enjoy the bounty the American farmer provides.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of our state. Missouri ranks second in the nation in the number of farms. Farming and food production contributes nearly $90 billion to our state’s economy and employs nearly 400,000 of our residents. Working the land and feeding the nation is more than just a business in Missouri, though. It’s a part of our culture and character, with generations of Missourians applying the lessons of the farm to everything we
Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have strived to be a champion for Missouri’s farmers, and our entire agricultural industry. Since first being elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, I have sponsored, co-sponsored and supported countless measures to promote Missouri agriculture. Examples include legislation to encourage production and use of biofuels to bills removing hauling limits for farm trucks. I’ve advanced legislation to promote Missouri’s beekeeping industry, support agricultural hemp crops, provide tax credits for meat processing plants and assist beginning farmers.
In 2020, I was appointed chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee. I immediately began researching avenues to expand opportunities in rural areas throughout the state. This year, I sponsored Senate Bill 465, the Missouri Rural Workforce Development Act, which provides tax credits for investment in rural businesses. Passage of this act would attract new businesses, create jobs and accelerate economic development in Missouri counties with a population of less than 50,000. The measure didn’t cross the legislative finish line this year, but I intend to try again in 2022. This and other legislation to benefit rural Missouri remain among my highest priorities as a legislator.
Given my long support for agriculture, it was troubling when I came under criticism for the failure to pass legislation that would have extended the Missouri Agricultural & Small Business Development Authority (MASBA) in the final days of the 2021 legislative session. It is true that I sought to add additional rural economic development provisions to a bill containing the MASBDA language, but my intention was never to block the bill’s passage. Truth be told, the last hours of this year’s session were unlike any in recent memory, with the Senate reaching an impasse so intractable that we adjourned hours ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the extension of this important agricultural development program fell victim. House Bill 948, which I was handling in the Senate, also fell short of the legislative finish line. This bill included provisions relating to ethanol and biodiesel, tax credits for film production in Missouri and language that mirrored the Missouri Rural Workforce Development Act of SB 465. I hope everyone understands I was as disappointed in the final outcome of these agriculture bills as anyone.
I have always been and will continue to be an ardent supporter of Missouri agriculture. I’m looking forward to the 2022 legislation session, and I am committed to continuing to help strengthen agriculture and ensure increased resources for rural economic development throughout Missouri.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.