The public signing of the agriculture bills was held at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in the historic Colosseum. Constructed in 1906 at a cost of $70,000, the Colosseum is one of the oldest buildings on the Fairgrounds. It has been very well maintained over the years, but will soon be receiving some updates to the roof, windows, and electrical system. Three former U.S. presidents have participated in events in the Colosseum: Wm Howard Taft, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan.
Governor Nixon opened the signing ceremony by saying, “Agriculture is Missouri’s number one industry, and that is why we work hard to help family farms by cutting red tape and promoting the sale and success of Missouri-Grown products.” The Governor went on to say, “I also appreciate the work of the General Assembly and Missouri producers to enact legislation strengthening our beef industry. This is an area we identify for growth, and today we are following through on those efforts.”
One of the bills the Governor signed was SB 665, a bill that re-authorized the existing Qualified Beef Tax Credit and the Meat Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit, as well as the New Generation Tax Credit that is a part of the Value-Added Program, a program that seeks to keep a Missouri raw product in the state for manufacturing or processing purposes, thus adding additional value by creating more jobs and revenue.
Though Missouri presently ranks 3rd in the nation in beef cattle production, almost all of those animals leave the state before maturity and are finished and processed in other states. Because of this, we are missing out on more than $1 billion in value every year. Thus, the Qualified Beef Program was developed to keep more Missouri cattle in our state for a longer period of time. Cattle and other agriculture products produced in the state (corn, soybeans, etc.) that are processed here create more jobs and more wealth for Missouri.
Also under SB 665 were the Farm-to-School Program and the Farm-to-Table Program. These programs expand the ability of Missouri farmers who produce meat products or garden produce to allow that product to be used in our correctional facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, longterm care facilities, and on military bases. At the present time, Ft. Leonard Wood and Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri bring in all their meat from other states because we don’t have the necessary supply facilities to meet their needs. That could change under this legislation.
The Governor also signed SB 657, a bill that promotes the installation of pumps for blended fuel at more service stations throughout the state. This bill ensures that the liability insurance these service stations are already required to have under state law will also provide coverage for the release of blended fuels from any compatible storage tank. This means that individuals filling the tanks of their vehicles are responsible for the fuel they put in them. They are liable for using the correct blend, and the service station is not at fault if the person uses the wrong fuel. The stations are required to have fuel types properly labeled, however.
Governor Nixon presently serves as the 2016 Chairman of the Governor’s Bio-Fuel Coalition, a 33-state bi-partisan organization founded more than 20 years ago to increase the use of ethanol-based fuel, decreasing the nation’s dependency on imported energy resources, improving the environment, and stimulating the nation’s economy. Missouri is home to the National Bio-Diesel Association.
Next, the Governor signed SB 664, a bill designed to cut some of the red tape for farmers by waiving the requirement that an authorized farm corporation or family farm corporation must file an annual corporate registration report with the Missouri Secretary of State when there has been no change to the corporation’s previously reported information. We have approximately 765 incorporated farms and only about 10% of these farms have a change to report in any given year.
In addition to the three agriculture-related bills the Governor signed at the Missouri State Fairgrounds, earlier in the day he signed SB 655, a bill that established the newly-formed Fertilizer Control Board. This Board’s purpose is to help the industry process fertilizer samples in a more timely manner and to help guarantee that those purchasing bulk or bag fertilizer actually receive the correct analysis.
SB 665, SB 657, SB 664, and SB 655 were some of the bills we have worked on for the past two sessions, and as one who spent a considerable amount of time with them, it was rewarding for me to see these four bills signed into law.