House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, wants a group of his colleagues to look at ways to address some of the issues impacting Missouri’s most important industry.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, wants a group of his colleagues to look at ways to address some of the issues impacting Missouri’s most important industry.

Jones this week announced the creation of the House Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agriculture Policy to assess the current state of agriculture in Missouri and develop policy recommendations that will promote the continued growth of the farming industry.

Jones named state Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, to chair the committee, and state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, to serve as vice chairman.

Jones said he is confident the two will work with the members of their committee to develop innovative solutions to help the state’s $11 billion agriculture industry thrive in the years to come.
Rep. Tom Hurst, R-Meta, whose district takes in northern Phelps County, is one of the members on the committee.

“We took a significant step this year toward protecting the livelihood of Missouri farm families by putting the Right to Farm amendment on the ballot, but several issues remain that must be addressed if the agriculture industry is to remain vibrant,” said Jones.

“I want Reps. Guernsey and Reiboldt to take a closer look at some of the issues impacting our dairy industry, as well as some of the infrastructure needs our state will have to meet in order move our agricultural products to new markets,” Jones added. “These are issues we must explore thoroughly to determine if there are reasonable policy solutions we can enact to help protect the long-term viability of the industry.”

Guernsey said he wants the committee to spend time discussing ways to help Missouri’s dairy farmers, who produce more than $4.4 billion worth of dairy products each year.

While the industry has been an important part of the state’s economy, Guernsey, who is a seventh generation dairy farmer, said many dairy farms have gone out of business in the wake of rising input costs.

“This is an industry that contributes billions of dollars to our economy and supports more than 23,000 jobs across the state. Unfortunately, we see some of these numbers declining because of the devastating impact of last year’s drought and the resulting increase in feed costs,” said Guernsey.

“The failure of the Congress to approve a farm bill means our state must step in to help in any way we can to preserve this vital industry,” Guernsey added. “I am confident the committee can work during the interim to develop some effective solutions to this situation that has reached crisis levels.”

Guernsey said he also plans to have the committee take a look at the federal milk pricing system, which he believes needs to be overhauled to bring milk prices in line with the regional costs associated with milk production.

Guernsey and Reiboldt said their committee also will look at issues related to the long-term development of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure, including the state’s ports, to allow for Missouri agricultural products to be easily and efficiently transported to new markets.

In addition, the committee will delve into issues related to the National Blueways System, which Guernsey and Reiboldt believe could negatively impact farmers and cattlemen with land along the White River Watershed.

Guernsey said the committee also will discuss any other issues that may be relevant to promoting the long-term prosperity of the agriculture industry.