Farmers who say agriculture became tough long before the country plunged into recession hope to get much more out of the state legislature next year than they did this year.
Even the big win for farmers has come under attack, as many legislators openly question the value of Missouri’s 10% ethanol mandate on gasoline.
Missouri Corn Growers Association President Mike Geske asserted to a legislative panel this year that it was the corn growers who took the risk to build six ethanol plants in Missouri.
"Corngrowers had banded together, pooled their money and built cooperatives to produce a corn-based fuel for our cars," Geske told legislators. "They then advocated for a 10% ethanol standard which pried open a market for the home-grown fuel, breaking the monopoly held by Big Oil, while ensuring that consumers would not be forced to pay more in case the fuel became more expensive than straight gasoline."
A provision in the law lifts the 10% ethanol mandate if the price of ethanol-based fuel rises above the price of regular gasoline.
Other problems loom for farmers. One grain elevator in northwest Missouri went bankrupt as did a grain broker in central Missouri. Lax state regulations leave farmers vulnerable to large losses.
"The state has a fundamental regulatory responsibility to make sure that agriculture merchandizing laws on the books are adequate, "Geske said. "In today’s economic climate, current laws are inadequate to cover farmer’s losses in the case of even one large grain elevator bankruptcy. These safeguards need updating."
Hearings were held in the House on a bill to address grain elevator concerns, but legislation never cleared the General Assembly.
Agriculture woes in Missouri seem to be mounting and widespread. Independent hog producers have struggled for years, finding it difficult to compete against large-scale integrated pork producers. Now, the once-reliable beef industry is facing real difficulties with some producers selling livestock.
One more issue paramount across agriculture: encroaching housing sub-divisions have many farmer asking lawmakers to enact Right to Farm legislation.