The 2020 Missouri legislative session was unlike any other. Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) entered the year with a list of priorities to support agriculture and rural Missourians. Even in a session interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to accomplish several of our priority goals. Unfortunately, some others were left unresolved.
The last few weeks have proven how vital access to high-speed internet is to all Missourians. The legislature took positive steps to connect Missourians in passing HB 1768.
MOFB believes strongly in protecting rural voices through representation in the Missouri capitol. We applaud the legislature for allowing voters the opportunity to vote for a fair redistricting plan. The proposal draws concise and contiguous districts while keeping communities of interest together.
We were extremely disappointed to see some Senators filibuster eminent domain reform. This is simply bad policy masquerading as economic development. The proposed legislation would have protected private property rights. MOFB opposes privately owned merchant transmission lines taking land through eminent domain. These companies are not serving Missourians. Their only goal is to profit by selling wind power into lucrative east coast markets. If these companies want to use Missouri farmland, they should have to negotiate with landowners and pay true fair market value. Unfortunately, a small number of Senators stood in the way of this common-sense reform and prevented the bill from coming to a vote.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for Missouri. Governor Parson, his administration and the legislature all rose to the occasion to address the impacts. Their response has been responsible and thoughtful during a chaotic time. We commend them for their tireless efforts. The sharp drop in tax revenue caused by the economic contraction forced legislators to cut $700 million from the budget. We appreciate the legislature being mindful of the needs of agriculture throughout the process. The approved budget included $20 million in CARES Act funding to support livestock producers and meat processing facilities.
As Governor Parson and the legislature consider potential special sessions, we will continue to advocate for the issues that were left unfinished in this shortened regular session. Visit mofb.org/roadmap for a more thorough discussion of our members’ priorities for rural Missouri.