A longtime state lawmaker who serves on a Missouri legislative committee examining Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) funding levels says some department divisions need fee increases, while others don’t. State Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, serves on the Joint Committee on Review of the Plant Industries Division, which met last week at the Statehouse in Jefferson City.

State Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, speaks on the Missouri House floor on May 18, 2018 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

“Just from looking through the information that we got today, some of the fees haven’t been changed since 1973. The most recent one was 2010,” Houghton says.

Missouri’s pesticide registration fees have remained the same since 2010, and fees for greenhouses haven’t been adjusted since 1992. MDA’s fees for grain elevator inspections have also stayed the same since 1992.

“Do I like fee increases, no,” says Houghton. “But unfortunately in government in order for things to run, you do have to pay fees.”

MDA officials have provided the committee with an immediate and long-term funding needs assessment.

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn testified last week that the agency has identified a target of $1.46 million in additional revenue to meet immediate ongoing needs.

MDA Plant Industries Division Director Paul Bailey testified that the pesticide program needs better computer software to track all inspections, investigations and enforcement work. They’re requesting about $200,000 for that.

Despite agriculture being Missouri’s largest industry, MDA’s overall budget is about $39.5 million.

Missouri’s state operating budget is about $28.3 billion.

The joint committee will form a subcommittee, and Houghton tells Missourinet he’s willing to serve on it.

The Joint Committee on Review of the Plant Industries Division will submit recommendations by the end of November.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, which was recorded on September 11, 2018 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:

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