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House hearings cover more than just dairy issues

The last of three hearings held in October by the Missouri House Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agriculture took place at the Andrew County Courthouse in Savannah on Oct. 21.

The hearings focused on surfacing ways to help the state’s dairy industry, but included other agricultural issues. Committee chair is Rep. Casey Guernsey and vice chair is Rep. Bill Reiboldt. Farm Bureau was represented in all three hearings. Earlier hearings were held in Harrisonville and Springfield.

Leslie Holloway, Missouri Farm Bureau director of state and local governmental affairs, took opportunity at the Savannah hearing to voice Farm Bureau’s concerns about construction of a chute near Jameson Island on the Missouri River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building the chute in an unproven effort to enhance habitat for the endangered pallid sturgeon fish. During construction of the chute, the Corps plans to dump excavated soil directly into the river. That runs counter to Missouri’s efforts to reduce soil erosion and runoff from the dedicated one-tenth cent state sales tax.

Holloway reiterated comments from a letter to Gov. Jay Nixon from several organizations, including Farm Bureau. “We want the Corps to place dredged soil from the Jameson Island project outside the meander area rather than dumping it in the river,” she said. “We want the Corps to protect the integrity of the Howard County levee by fixing the problems that have been caused by the Corps’ earlier work at the Jameson Island site. And, we want the Corps to commit not to dump soil in future projects.”

Nixon in response has sent a letter to the Corps requesting they discontinue the project until concerns are resolved.

Several Northwest Missouri dairymen did testify, among them was Sean Cornelius of Hamilton, Mo. Cornelius, a member of FB’s Dairy Advisory Committee and a dairy consultant, said adapting to the ever-changing business climate of dairy production is a challenge for many dairy farmers. “As the committee looks for ways to help the dairy industry please keep in mind programs that will encourage dairy farmers to embrace and adapt to changes necessary in their business models,” he said.

Dairy farmer David Martin from Humansville, Mo., who is Hickory County Farm Bureau president, and Brent Hampy, a Pettis County cattleman and Missouri Farm Bureau State Board member, testified at the Harrisonville hearing. Vince Blankenship, who runs a dairy near Aurora, testified at the Springfield hearing.

Both Martin and Blankenship told the committee educating dairy farmers about risk management tools would be one step in giving farmers more tools to financially improve their farms. State programs to incentivize additional ‘new’ milk production from Missouri’s existing dairy farmer base, and developing new markets for Missouri-produced milk would also help.

Missouri’s dairy farmers produce more than $4.4 billion in dairy products every year. Dairy in the state supports 23,000 Missouri jobs.

Hampy focused on disease issues, specifically state trichomoniasis regulations. Trich is a venereal disease of cattle. Infected herds can end up with a 50 to 70 percent calf crop due to infertility complications. “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 Missouri Department of Agriculture animal health officials,” Hampy said.

Date: 10/28/2013



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