As chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture committee, I understand the important role agriculture plays in our state. After all, it’s Missouri’s No. 1 industry, employing nearly 400,000 people and …
As chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture committee, I understand the important role agriculture plays in our state. After all, it’s Missouri’s No. 1 industry, employing nearly 400,000 people and contributing $88 billion annually to the state’s economy according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
At its most basic level though, agriculture is good, honest work, done by good, honest people. It puts food on the table for not just Missourians, but for people all over the world.
With that in mind, I believe it’s vital the General Assembly do everything it can to support this important industry. While we were able to pass some meaningful agriculture-related bills this past legislative session, not all of them were able to get across the finish line. While it’s normal for many bills to never get to the governor’s desk at the end of session, several of these unresolved issues in particular are time-sensitive.
For instance, the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) tax credit programs are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021, before the Legislature returns for its next regular session in 2022. These programs have helped bring an estimated $247 million in direct and indirect benefits to Missouri since 2000.
Another tax credit program, this one dealing with ethanol, is also set to expire at the end of this year. Had it passed, Senate Bill 37 would have extended these useful programs, as well as a program allowing SNAP recipients to use their benefits to get fresh, healthy foods at their local farmer markets.
Then there’s the effort to protect property rights. House Bill 527 would have restricted the use of eminent domain for merchant utility lines and ensured farmers and other property owners were not taken advantage of by out-of-state energy companies. Unfortunately, this effort also stalled in the last few days of session.
Earlier this month, I, along with vice-chair of the Senate’s Ag Committee and leadership of the House’s Ag Policy Committee, wrote a letter to the governor requesting he call an extra session focused on agriculture. I believe this extra session will give the General Assembly the opportunity it needs to address many of these important agricultural issues sooner rather than later. I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues in the near future to help keep agriculture Missouri’s No. 1 industry for years to come.
As always, it is an honor to serve 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.