Peggy McGaugh has been involved in local government for almost 35 years, having started working in the Carroll County Clerk’s Office in 1982.  She’s held the elected position of County Clerk as a Republican since being elected in November if 1994.

Carroll County Courthouse – Image courtesy of Missouri Association of Counties

Her son is third term GOP State Representative Joe Don McGaugh of Carrollton.

Peggy McGaugh represents Carroll County at the National Association of Counties (NACo), which held its annual conference in July.  NACo is an organization of 3,069 county governments across the country.

McGaugh is a member of NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee, where the focus this year was on the Farm Bill that’s expiring in 2018.

Congress is currently holding hearings about the legislation.  Continued funding of crop subsidies for farmer’s has been a contentious issue among lawmakers.  There’s also been discussion on whether to keep SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps, under the bill’s umbrella for funding.

McGaugh says NACo supports legislation to fund nutrition assistance programs that would reach beyond retail options to invest in farmers markets.

She was especially interested in discussions about promoting community gardens, cooking and the use of regional food to avoid dependence on SNAP.  “It’s a goal,” said McGaugh.  “It’s probably a lofty goal, but I believe it’s one that can be done in ten years.”

McGaugh is a longtime member of the regional anti-poverty organization known as the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency.

Her NACo committee is heavily involved one of the organization’s legislative priorities, to fully fund the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties for tax-exempt federal land within their boundaries.

Missouri has a few counties with enough public land to impact tax collections, but western states have far and away the largest concentration of federal property.  By comparison, Missouri receives roughly $4 million in PILT money, while New Mexico gets almost $39 million.  New York, with almost no public land, receives about $147,000 annually.

According to McGaugh, the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee held lengthy discussions this year over renewable energy.  More recently, the Missouri Public Service Commission squashed a major green power initiative when it denied permits for the Green Belt Express, which would build transmission lines to spread wind generated energy through the region.

McGaugh is especially interested in the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which provides grants for entrepreneurs in rural counties.  She thinks it could boost a sagging local business climate in Carroll County.

“We have very few retail stores on the square anymore.  We have a very beautiful square, but they can’t keep up with the Walmart’s and the big town stores.  So that’s something that I hope our local people can take advantage of.”

McGaugh’s committee also extensively discussed the importance of making Congress aware of the needs of rural counties.  She says infrastructure is an especially important issue.  “That’s one of the things that NACo speaks on our behalf, to make sure that the federal government knows that we need infrastructure just as bad as St. Louis and Kansas City when they fund bicycle trails.”

As an elected member of county government, McGaugh, is frustrated more hasn’t been done on the state level to maintain roads and bridges.  She thinks voters will have to think beyond their immediate interests when considering transportation measures in the ballot box.

“Instead of voting your current pocketbook, somebody’s going to have to think of the future, and what we’re leaving our children and grandchildren.  Right now it’s just crumbling.”

Outside of NACo, McGaugh is excited about an investment in Carroll County being made by Tara Industries.  The company, which converts plant and animal products into clean bio-fuels, is constructing a 500 acre facility near the town of Tina.

McGaugh thinks the plant will vastly improve employment in the rural community.  “It’s going to be a wonderful energy corridor, transportation hub.  It’s just going to be a great industry.”  When full built out, the factory is expected to provide 400-500 jobs over the next five to 10 years.