Interim Agriculture Issues Committee Formed

| June 27, 2013
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Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones has appointed a new Interim Committee.  Representative Casey Guernsey, of Bethany, will chair the House Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agricultural Policy.  Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Guernsey:

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Guernsey says legislators must find ways for the government to create and support business, and get out of the way when necessary.  “Especially in the area of agriculture.  I mean, when you’re dependent on markets, the weather, and government regulation to determine your success or failure, it’s incumbent on those of us in government where we have more of an ability to control than the markets and the weather, to do what we can to support those producers.  So that’s kind of the goal of the committee,” said Guernsey.

Guernsey hopes to focus on dairy policy in the state.  The pricing system for producers is determined by an algorithm Guernsey calls “antiquated.”

“It’s the folks who depend on the food supply who are paying the ultimate price.  I mean, right now in Missouri, we can’t even produce enough milk to feed Missourians.  To meet the demand of milk in the state of Missouri.  And that’s too bad,” said Guernsey.

He said he remembers, as a kid, having more than a dozen dairy farms in the county.  He says some counties don’t have even one dairy farm any more.  Guernsey said the continued loss of dairy producers in Missouri will lead to even higher prices in Missouri, and he hopes to halt that climb.

Press Release from the Missouri House of Representatives

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – House Speaker Tim Jones wants a group of his colleagues to look at ways to address some of the issues impacting Missouri’s most important industry. Jones announced the creation of the House Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agriculture Policy to assess the current state of agriculture in Missouri and develop policy recommendations that will promote the continued growth of the farming industry.

Jones named state Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, to chair the committee, and state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, to serve as vice chairman. Jones said he is confident the two will work with the members of their committee to develop innovative solutions to help the state’s $11 billion agriculture industry thrive in the years to come.

“We took a significant step this year toward protecting the livelihood of Missouri farm families by putting the Right to Farm amendment on the ballot, but several issues remain that must be addressed if the agriculture industry is to remain vibrant,” said Jones, R-Eureka. “I want Reps. Guernsey and Reiboldt to take a closer look at some of the issues impacting our dairy industry, as well as some of the infrastructure needs our state will have to meet in order move our agricultural products to new markets. These are issues we must explore thoroughly to determine if there are reasonable policy solutions we can enact to help protect the long-term viability of the industry.”

Guernsey said he wants the committee to spend time discussing ways to help Missouri’s dairy farmers, who produce more than $4.4 billion worth of dairy products each year. While the industry has been an important part of the state’s economy, Guernsey, who is a seventh generation dairy farmer, said many dairy farms have gone out of business in the wake of rising input costs.

“This is an industry that contributes billions of dollars to our economy and supports more than 23,000 jobs across the state. Unfortunately, we see some of these numbers declining because of the devastating impact of last year’s drought and the resulting increase in feed costs,” said Guernsey, R-Bethany. “The failure of the Congress to approve a farm bill means our state must step in to help in any way we can to preserve this vital industry. I am confident the committee can work during the interim to develop some effective solutions to this situation that has reached crisis levels.”

Guernsey said he also plans to have the committee take a look at the federal milk pricing system, which he believes needs to be overhauled to bring milk prices in line with the regional costs associated with milk production.

Guernsey and Reiboldt said their committee also will look at issues related to the long-term development of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure, including the state’s ports, to allow for Missouri agricultural products to be easily and efficiently transported to new markets. In addition, the committee will delve into issues related to the National Blueways System, which Guernsey and Reiboldt believe could negatively impact farmers and cattlemen with land along the White River Watershed. Guernsey said the committee also will discuss any other issues that may be relevant to promoting the long-term prosperity of the agriculture industry.

Other members of the committee include: Reps. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield; T.J. Berry, R-Kearney; Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo; Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte; Tony Dugger, R-Hartville; Dennis Fowler, R-Advance; Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton; Kent Hampton, R-Malden; Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg; Tom Hurst, R-Meta; Warren Love, R-Osceola; Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton; Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove: Dave Muntzel, R-Boonville; Donna Pfautsch, R-Harrisonville; Tim Remole, R-Excello; Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville; Nate Walker, R-Kirksville; Linda Black, D-Bonne Terre; Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis; Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie; Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis; Ed Schieffer, D-Troy; John Wright, D-Rocheport.

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