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An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Good Year for Rural Missouri’s Priorities in the State Capitol

BY ERIC BOHL

Good Year for Rural Missouri’s Priorities in the State Capitol

Despite the tremendous distractions in Missouri politics this spring, the 2018 Missouri legislative session ended with several big wins for both rural Missourians and the entire state. Lawmakers were able to overcome personal and political differences to prioritize agriculture, the state’s number one industry, in the closing days of session.

At the last minute, the House of Representatives approved ballot language allowing the voters of Missouri to decide whether to allow a transportation funding increase. Missouri’s gas tax has not changed in 26 years and its value has been eaten alive by inflation. This proposal may be what is needed for road and bridge funding to keep pace with increased costs. MOFB has encouraged the legislature to address this for several years, and it was great to see the legislature step up and move a solution forward.

Late last year, Missouri Farm Bureau members prioritized expanding access to high-speed broadband internet. They identified problems with potential lawsuits and a lack of coordination on the statewide level to encourage infrastructure deployment. The legislature directly addressed both of these issues in ways that could pay dividends in the coming years.

Senator Mike Cunningham and Representative Curtis Trent crafted a bill to minimize the threat of lawsuits for rural electric cooperatives installing fiberoptic cable on existing power lines in order to deliver world-class internet access to rural areas. Some trial attorneys had called this an eminent domain taking and tried to score multimillion-dollar settlements for the “damage” caused to property owners by this additional wire being strung on a pole. The bill lets landowners sue if the installation causes actual physical damage to their land but prevents these ridiculous class actions.

A separate bill sponsored by Senator Dan Hegeman and Representative Delus Johnson sets up a Rural Broadband Development Fund to help outline how service will be delivered to rural areas. While this year’s bill only creates a framework, hopefully future years will see money appropriated to execute the Fund’s plan of bringing truly high-speed internet to all parts of Missouri.

Senator Mike Cunningham and Representative John Wiemann led the effort to clarify the Missouri Clean Water Law to ensure that storm water runoff and irrigation flows do not require permits from the Department of Natural Resources unless they are entering and harming a water of the state. This provision will not change the way these waters are treated, but it will clarify some ambiguous legal provisions to prevent unreasonable lawsuits.

A broad-ranging agriculture bill led by Senator Brian Munzlinger and Representative Jay Houghton perhaps caught the most national attention of any bill this session. One of its provisions requires any food labeled as “meat” to be harvested from an animal carcass. This seemingly obvious definition has become more controversial with the advent of plant-based and lab-cultured imitation meat products. If signed by the Governor, this consumer-clarity law would make Missouri the first state to prevent such products from being labeled as “meat” and could set off a wave of similar laws in other states.

As with any year, there are always priorities left on the table to be addressed in the future, but even this small sample shows that 2018 has been a good year for Missouri agriculture policy. All eyes will now turn to the Governor for signatures, but thus far he has not signaled opposition to any of these priority issues.


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES


07-20-2017 - Dad's Farm Jacket

06-29-2017 - Come and Get It!

06-14-2017 - Meet Someone

04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

07-16-2015 - Time Well Spent

07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

04-29-2015 - Proper Road Etiquette

04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

02-05-2015 - No Skin in the Game

01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

10-03-2013 - Must-See TV

09-26-2013 - Chipotle, at It Again

09-13-2013 - Naked is Still Naked

07-25-2013 - Let's Play Ball

06-13-2013 - Rural is Relative

06-06-2013 - Playing by the Rules

05-30-2013 - Uncertainty is Certain

05-02-2013 - Watch and Wait

04-18-2013 - City Cousins

04-11-2013 - What You Don't Know

02-28-2013 - Barefoot in the Dirt

02-14-2013 - Rural Relevance

02-07-2013 - How It's Made

01-17-2013 - A Green Mindset

01-03-2013 - Knowing Your Neighbors

12-20-2012 - The Spare Parachute

12-06-2012 - Last Minute Shoppers

11-15-2012 - Attitude of Gratitude

11-08-2012 - Thanksgiving Time

11-01-2012 - Bacon is Big

10-25-2012 - Rural Votes Matter

10-11-2012 - The Farm Bill Big Deal

09-07-2012 - Farm Progress

08-23-2012 - A Real Dilemma

08-16-2012 - The Next Season

08-09-2012 - Land of Legacy

07-19-2012 - All Things Considered

07-06-2012 - One of Those Years

06-28-2012 - The Real Uncle Sam

06-07-2012 - Something Certain

05-11-2012 - Not Asparagus

04-05-2012 - Something to See

03-22-2012 - Doing Our Part

03-15-2012 - Farmers Get Trendy

02-23-2012 - We Reap What We Sow

02-02-2012 - Fanfare for Farmers

01-27-2012 - Recovery from Ruin

01-19-2012 - A New Coffee Shop

12-15-2011 - The Farmer's Tale

12-08-2011 - Made in USA

11-22-2011 - Tired from Retiring

11-03-2011 - Scars on Their Souls

10-20-2011 - Hooked on Halloween

09-15-2011 - Told You So!

08-17-2011 - They're BACK!

08-11-2011 - A New Type of Vacation

08-04-2011 - Perfection, Summer

07-28-2011 - It's a Show-Me Thing

07-07-2011 - Country Girl

05-12-2011 - Land Grab Underway

04-14-2011 - Earth Day Controversy

01-20-2011 - EPA, TMDL and AFBF

01-14-2011 - A Word of Caution

12-29-2010 - Mincemeat Madness

12-15-2010 - The Farmer's Tale

12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

11-04-2010 - Scars on Their Souls

09-16-2010 - Ratify to Help Rectify

09-01-2010 - Cut to the Crash

08-18-2010 - It's Not about Puppies

07-28-2010 - What a Great Ride!

07-15-2010 - Just a Smidgen More!

06-24-2010 - Oh, Oh - SpaghettiOs

05-20-2010 - Weiner Patties?

05-13-2010 - Farmland Restoration

04-15-2010 - God Bless You 14 Times

03-12-2010 - Don't CAP Our Future!

02-05-2010 - Thank A Farmer

01-15-2010 - Food Prices Leveling!

12-17-2009 - The Farmer's Tale

12-11-2009 - Who is in Charge?

12-04-2009 - Deal or No Deal?

11-24-2009 - Connect the Dots