Missouri is not a stranger to major weather events. The state is deciding whether to create a fund to help the state’s agriculture industry weather natural disasters, such as drought and flooding.

Aaron Willard, Gov. Mike Parson’s chief of staff, told the Missouri House Budget Committee that the governor’s state budget proposal includes a $3.5 million request to create the fund.

“For the last several years, we’ve had quite a few instances of drought, then a flooding, and of drought again. And so, this is an opportunity that usually in those cases, we come back to you all, and we ask for funding to try to address some of these issues that have popped up. And this is just an opportunity, from our perspective to say, ‘Look, we can take some of this funding, and we could actually maybe do a little bit of planning ahead,’” said Willard.

Missouri farmers and ranchers have been dealing with severe drought over the past two years – taking a toll on their bottom line.

“We have not only the droughts and the floods, but the impact just on the availability of water is a really critically important issue. If you’re a row crop farmer, a lot of times you have the option for insurance. If you are a livestock farmer, you do not. This is also an opportunity to maybe plan ahead and do some things around ponds or around wells,” he said.

Missouri House Budget Committee Vice Chairman Dirk Deaton, R-Noel, is among the lawmakers reviewing the governor’s proposal.

“I thought, well, if it’s just maybe for planning or, you know, would it be something necessarily needed, you know, every year and it’s kind of hard to say because it’s, you know, somewhat contingent upon if there’s a flood or a drought what it sounds like. But honestly, it’s Missouri. Right? Do we ever not have a flood or a drought somewhere,” asked Deaton.

Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Manchester, supports the plan.

“I appreciate that opportunity to help with farmers and I do think the weather issues are going to continue to plague us for a while. I used to think we had plenty of water in Missouri. I’m not sure we do anymore,” said Lavender.

Missouri lawmakers are working on the governor’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal throughout the current legislative session.

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