Right To Farm, Transportation Sales Tax Top Farm Issues

Missouri Farm Bureau Adopts Major Policy Positions for 2014.

Published on: Dec 23, 2013

The Right to Farm and Ranch Amendment, foreign ownership of farmland, a new transportation sales tax, term limits, a new state beef checkoff, confidentiality of crop production data and a legal challenge to California's state law on eggs were among the major issues discussed this year at Missouri Farm Bureau's 99th Annual Meeting.  Almost 1,100 members representing Missouri's 113 county Farm Bureaus attended the meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks this week.

"There are many state and national issues on the minds of farmers these days that are important to the future of agriculture.  At the forefront is approval by Missouri voters of Constitutional Amendment #1, Keep Missouri Farming, that will give constitutional protection to responsible and lawful farming practices," said Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau.  "At this year's annual meeting we began discussing our game plan for passage of the amendment in 2014."

BUILDING POLICY: Members of the Missouri Farm Bureau came together in December to forge their top legislative policies for 2014. The farm organization adopted 500 policy positions.
BUILDING POLICY: Members of the Missouri Farm Bureau came together in December to forge their top legislative policies for 2014. The farm organization adopted 500 policy positions.

Policy positions

During the debate on policy positions, more than 400 voting delegates expressed concern with the newly enacted state law that repeals Missouri's longstanding and Farm Bureau-supported prohibition on foreign ownership of farmland.  The new law allows up to 1% foreign ownership.  Delegates adopted a policy opposing foreign ownership of Missouri farmland, thereby encouraging state legislators to revisit this issue in 2014.

EVERY FARMER COUNTS: Tony Underwood was just one of 400 delegates at this years Missouri Farm Bureau annual meeting. Farmers craft local policy resolutions and bring them to the floor during the meeting.
EVERY FARMER COUNTS: Tony Underwood was just one of 400 delegates at this year's Missouri Farm Bureau annual meeting. Farmers craft local policy resolutions and bring them to the floor during the meeting.

Delegates voted to support efforts to place on the 2014 ballot a one-cent sales tax earmarked for transportation with a 10-year sunset clause.  The policy went on to withhold Missouri Farm Bureau's endorsement of the sales tax proposal until it is assured the funds are distributed fairly between the rural and urban areas and the funds will be used for road and bridge projects identified with considerable local input and support.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

State legislative term limits were also on the minds of Farm Bureau delegates.  A policy was adopted to support allowing state legislators to serve up to 16 years in the Senate, House or any combination thereof.  Similar legislation was debated in the 2013 legislative session.  Currently Missourians are restricted to serving eight years in the Senate and eight years in the House.

The delegates voted to support a voluntary state beef check-off program in addition to the current one dollar national beef check-off.  Delegates believe the process should be transparent, approved by a referendum and efforts made to educate all Missouri cattle producers about the voter registration process required by State statute to participate in a check-off referendum.  The new funds should be administered by the Missouri Beef Industry Council and only be used for promotion, education and research programs and not for legislative or lobbying purposes.

With satellite technology available today to accumulate real-time crop yield data from combine yield monitors, a policy was adopted stating that farmers should own whatever data is generated from their farms, that farmers should be compensated for their data when shared with third parties and that compilations of yield data should be shared with farmers who helped generate the data and only used for developing yield estimates with the farmers' knowledge and permission.      

Policy was adopted supporting legal action announced during Missouri Farm Bureau's annual meeting by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster challenging California's state law prohibiting the sale of eggs from out-of-state that are not produced in compliance with production standards that are as strict as California's.  In his remarks, the attorney general also announced that Missouri will join American Farm Bureau Federation's litigation challenging EPA's water quality initiative that preempts state authority by imposing regulatory restrictions directly affecting farmers and ranchers in the Chesapeake Bay area. 

About 500 policy positions, new and renewed, were adopted at Missouri Farm Bureau's annual meeting. 

Source: Missouri Farm Bureau