Blaine’s Bulletin: Missouri Agriculture

As one of the leading agricultural states in the nation, Missouri’s ag industry plays a huge role in supporting our state’s economy and is a major part of our way of life. Our state’s agricultural operations are not only feeding, clothing, and fueling Missouri and our country but the world. With a $94 billion dollar agriculture industry and the second most farms of any state in America (only behind Texas), our farms and ranches bring a huge sense of pride – and rightfully so.

Part of what makes Missouri agriculture so special is that 97% of our farmland is family owned. And with 2/3 of our state’s makeup being farmland, Missourians are continuing their family legacies all across our state. Agriculture is a way of life here, and meeting with groups like FFA and young adults who are picking up where their parents left off on their farms or ranches is an extremely heartening part of my job. Missourians have farmed this land for hundreds of years and knowing the next generation is excited to do the same is one of the best insurance policies for success our state could have.

About every 5 years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill to provide ag producers nationwide with everything they need to continue doing their jobs well. Farming and ranching are industries that face a great deal of uncertainty thanks to Mother Nature, so ensuring they can count on the things we do have control of is extremely important. The Farm Bill is always a large undertaking, as it covers everything from crop insurance, to the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to risk management. And in recent years with China and foreign adversaries purchasing American farmland, there is a new perspective we must consider as we deal with the Farm Bill later this year.

I recently held a roundtable event with Congressman Mark Alford in Columbia to catch up with ag producers in our area and hear what’s most important to them as we head into Farm Bill season. We heard from farmers, ranchers, research experts and industry stakeholders about everything from the devastating drought conditions our state has endured this summer, to what they think should be at the top of the priority list during Farm Bill negotiations. As the Representative of such an ag-heavy district ensuring the needs of Missouri farmers are met in these negotiations is extremely important to me, and the input I received at our roundtable was invaluable.

I know this summer’s drought conditions have been hard on Missouri farmers and ranchers with 95% of Missouri land having a drought classification, and the appropriate state agencies are working to find solutions. Water is essential for agricultural operations and while the drought has been difficult, there was some positive water news earlier this summer. In May, the United States Supreme Court delivered a huge win for American farmers and ranchers with its WOTUS (Waters of the United States) ruling. This administration’s expansion of WOTUS rules and definition of ‘navigable waters’ created significant confusion for landowners looking to work their own property. But the Supreme Court ruled in favor of cutting red tape and now, farmers, ranchers, and landowners across the country can make changes to their own land without worrying about hiring a team of lawyers or engineers to help them comply with federal bureaucracy.

Ensuring our state’s farmers have a seat at the table will always be a big part of my job. Missouri’s agricultural industry is a huge part of our identity as a state, and I’m grateful to all of the hardworking farmers and ranchers who continue this tradition every day. And I look forward to this tradition being carried on by generations to come.