The Missouri Farm Bureau president describes the 2017 legislative session as “historic”.
Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst praises the Missouri Legislature’s quick passage of dicamba legislation, which increased the penalties for illegal use of herbicides.
“This (bill) was to address the dicamba situation that occurred last year in southeast Missouri,” Hurst says. “Representative Don Rone (R-Portageville) was kind of the leader on that. Did a great job of getting people together and getting it done in time to be in place for this year’s crop season.”
Governor Eric Greitens (R) signed the bill in late March and it took effect immediately, because of an emergency clause.
The bill authorizes the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) to issue a $10,000 penalty per violation. Hurst tells Missourinet that while Farm Bureau wanted a bill with teeth in it, they also wanted balance.
“But we didn’t want to catch the average farmer who might be out spraying when the wind speeds were under label, label instructions might be at the end of a three quarter mile long row and before he got back to the other end the wind speed had changed,” says Hurst.
The MDA has investigated pesticide complaints from five southeast Missouri counties and from northwest Missouri’s Carroll County.
Hurst praises lawmakers for approving money for the biodiesel fund.
Hurst also praises them for passing legislation overturning a western Missouri county’s attempt to keep farm machinery off the roads at night. He notes farmers are working late in fields, because of heavy rains.
Missouri Farm Bureau did not get every victory it hoped for in 2017.
The state’s largest general farm organization says it’s disappointed that progress was not made in the Legislature this year on strengthening eminent domain protection for landowners.
Hurst expresses concerns about the Clean Line Energy Partners proposal.
“That’s a private merchant company so to speak who’s putting a for-profit power line across the state of Missouri,” Hurst says. “Was not designed to serve Missouri citizens in any way and yet they are asking for the right of eminent domain.”
Hurst says his organization believes there’s a difference between power lines to serve Missourians with electricity and lines designed to make profits for private investors.
Clean Line Energy has identified a 206-mile proposed Missouri route for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. It would go from just south of St. Joseph to just south of Hannibal.
Hurst also addresses the issue of transportation, saying Farm Bureau supports increased transportation funding.
Missouri’s fuel tax hasn’t been raised in 21 years. The Show-Me State currently ranks 47th in the nation in revenue per mile.
The state has more than 33,000 miles of roadway, making it the nation’s seventh-largest state highway system.
Click here to listen to the full six-minute interview between Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth and Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst, recorded on May 18, 2017 in Jefferson City: