Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) members are celebrating a successful 2022 state legislative session after scoring major victories to protect property rights, make strategic investments in critical infrastructure and promote rural development through targeted tax credits.
Regarding the successful 2022 legislative session, MOFB President Garrett Hawkins said, “Our members have worked tirelessly for years on a number of issues that finally saw results this session. From supporting property rights to developing rural communities and expanding broadband internet to all Missourians, this year will be remembered as a banner year for rural Missouri. I am proud of our members’ grassroots advocacy and appreciate the hard work the legislature took on to make meaningful change for our state a reality.”
After nearly a decade of fighting to reform Missouri’s eminent domain laws, the legislature voted to install safeguards to protect property owners in eminent domain proceedings. Representative Mike Haffner’s (R-Pleasant Hill) HB 2005, handled in the Senate by Sen. Jason Bean (R-Peach Orchard), applies to high-voltage electrical transmission line projects. Under the new rules, projects will be required to show a proportional public benefit for Missourians, calculated based on the proportion of miles of the line located in Missouri versus miles of the total project. The bill also sets a price floor of 150% of fair market value for agricultural and horticultural property taken through eminent domain. It also bolsters the requirement of a good faith offer at the outset of negotiations, requiring the company to offer 150% of the appraised value or the company may be liable to pay the landowner’s attorney fees. Along with other safeguards, these provisions are a significant step forward to help level the playing field and ensure landowners are treated fairly before future electrical transmission projects are developed in our state. This important legislation demonstrates that it is possible to strike a balance between energy security and property rights.
After two years of legislative debate, both chambers passed HB 1720 by Rep. Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia) and handled by Sen. Jason Bean in the Senate. This bill would reauthorize and extend several proven rural tax credits that had been allowed to expire at the end of 2021, including the New Generation Cooperative Incentive Tax Credit, Agricultural Product Utilization Tax Credit, and Meat Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit. It also creates a biodiesel incentive program and an ethanol retailer incentive, and contains several other agriculture-related provisions.
This year’s state budget includes $372 million to invest in broadband internet infrastructure, including $250 million in grants to build out middle and last-mile infrastructure. MOFB has led the effort for broadband deployment for years, and this huge investment will bring many Missourians needed connectivity.
MOFB has fought for years to protect the property rights of farmers and landowners along the Rock Island railroad corridor, which some wish to turn into a recreational trail. In a win for landowners, the legislature’s final budget chose not to fund a $70 million request to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for this project.
The legislature approved Governor’s Parson’s budget recommendation to once again make significant investments into the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, including acquisition of additional property to expand the grounds, construction of a new covered arena to attract larger events, development of additional campsites, and other grounds improvements and maintenance. The Missouri State Fair is the annual showcase of Missouri agriculture and its historical grounds are utilized year round to promote agriculture and provide youth development opportunities.
The budget included $500,000 for a cost-share assistance program to help agritourism businesses purchase and place signs on highway rights-of-way. This initiative will help the fastest-growing segment of agriculture by informing tourists and potential visitors of the exciting agritourism opportunities throughout Missouri.
These important bills have headed to Governor Parson’s desk. MOFB is grateful for all of the hard work and leadership of many members of the legislature to pass these bills for the benefit of all Missourians. We look forward to next year’s legislative session, where we will continue to fight for Missourians and their rights.