The session of the general assembly that begins today will mean an education effort for the Department of Agriculture, according to its director. Agriculture Director Jon Hagler says there are 57 new members in the general assembly, and his Department must reach out to all of them.
“Letting folks know what the Department does, what it does for their constituents and the importance agriculture plays in our economy, and looking to see what their ideas and thoughts are as we move forward over the next four years.”
Hagler says a key budget issue for the Department will be continuation of biodiesel production tax credits.
“Even over the last, challenging 4 years we’ve been able to do that for ethanol and biodiesel. Those ethanol incentives have gone away now but the biodiesel are still there so that will certainly be a priority for us.”
Hagler says the ethanol industry has matured and is developing second and third generation technology, and is ready to move on without production incentives.
He says though budgets in recent years have been tight, targeted reinvestments have been made in the Department of Agriculture that must be continued.
“For example in the grain dealer area, having grain auditors certainly helped protect us over the last three or four years so that we didn’t have the failures that we saw in the past. In vet care, in our vet capacity, being able to respond to disease, emergencies, trade issues. I think exports is another area where Governor Nixon certainly strengthened our capacity.”
Hagler says at the federal level, the extension of the old Farm Bill means a lot of uncertainty for farmers. He says producers need Congress to pass a new, 5-year bill.