The Missouri House Speaker emphasizes the importance of agriculture, property rights, transportation and broadband access during an address this week to Missouri Farm Bureau members meeting in Jefferson City.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, tells Farm Bureau members the House has a primary mission.
“And that is how do we make Missouri one of the most competitive economic environments you’ll find anywhere in the country,” Richardson says. “And agriculture and rural Missouri play a critical role in that.”
More than 150 Farm Bureau members from across the state traveled to Jefferson City for Tuesday’s legislative day.
Richardson tells the group Missouri agriculture is crucial to the state’s economy.
“We know here, and we have to remind some of our (legislative) colleagues everyday, that agriculture is still and will remain the largest industry in the state of Missouri,” says Richardson.
The State Department of Agriculture (MDA) released a detailed report in January 2017, noting that agriculture is an $88 billion dollar industry in Missouri, employing nearly 400,000 people statewide.
The MDA report says Missouri has about 100,000 farms, about 90 percent of which are family-owned.
Speaker Richardson also outlined some of the challenges rural Missouri is facing.
He says Missouri currently ranks 40th in the nation in access to broadband service.
Richardson praises legislation from State Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, which declares the intent of the Missouri Legislature to facilitate and encourage development of fiber optic infrastructure by rural electric cooperatives.
The Missouri House voted to give final approval to Trent’s bill in early February by a 149-1 vote.
Trent’s bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and the Environment Committee.