Farm Bureau leaders testify on behalf of dairy farmers
At the first of several hearings around the state focused on Missouri’s dairy industry, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agriculture is looking at ways to improve the state’s dairy industry. An Oct. 8 hearing in Harrisonville was the first, with others scheduled in Springfield and northwest Missouri later this month.
Testifying at the Harrisonville hearing for Farm Bureau were dairy farmer David Martin, who is also Hickory County Farm Bureau president, and Brent Hampy, a Pettis County cattleman who serves on the Missouri Farm Bureau State Board of Directors.
Martin, whose family has operated a dairy for three generations near Humansville, Mo., told state representatives that even though many dairy policy issues must be addressed at the federal level, there are areas in which Missouri legislators can help.
“Create a dairy apprentice mentoring program to give high school and college students who have an interest in dairy farming the opportunity to get practical hands-on experience working on a dairy farm,” Martin suggested. “We would urge the committee to develop state programs that enhance dairy profitability, incentivize additional ‘new’ milk production from Missouri’s existing dairy farmer base, and expand and develop markets for Missouri produced milk.”
Hampy focused on disease issues, specifically state trichomoniasis regulations. Trich is a venereal disease of cattle that can be economically devastating for a cattle owner if their herd becomes infected with the disease. Infected herds can end up with a 50 to 70 percent calf crop due to infertility complications.
Farm Bureau supports the development of a trich notification procedure by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. “We strongly support the development of a trich notification rule for cattle producers adjacent to an infected herd and believe notification should be the responsibility of MDA animal health officials. The Department should move forward with a plan to modify the current rules in the swiftest manner possible and provide the necessary resources.”
The committee is also looking at the federal milk pricing system and ways the state can bring milk prices in line with the regional costs of producing milk. Missouri’s dairy farmers produce more than $4.4 billion in dairy products every year. Dairy in the state supports 23,000 Missouri jobs.