July 26, 2001

Missouri Senate Pledges To Help Save State's Livestock Producers

Led by local Senator John Cauthorn, R-Mexico and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, a majority of senators on July 18 called upon the governor to include an agricultural issue in his call for a special session. The senators are supporting a repeal of a state law that has unwittingly wreaked havoc on small farmers resulting in thousands of dollars in losses for individual family farmers across the state.

In a letter to the governor, the senators cited the recent implementation of Senate Bill 310, passed by the General Assembly in 1999, that has caused staggering losses for farmers and ranchers trading in the cash market for cattle and hogs in Missouri.

"We have enough votes in the Missouri Senate to repeal this terrible law," Kinder said. "Small farmers and ranchers across the state are obviously hurting. It's our responsibility to fix the problem before irreparable damage is done and family farmers are forced to leave the farm."

A similar law passed in South Dakota cost livestock producers in the state $4 million in a 22-day period in 1999. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Statistics Office in Columbia estimates the negative impact of the Missouri law on the state's farm and rural communities to be between $7 million and $20 million.

"The Missouri Department of Agriculture recognizes this is a problem, but their regulatory solutions have been unsuccessful in restoring the markets, Cauthorn, a farmer from Audrain County, said. "During the past session, we passed a bill to address this problem, but the House leadership was unable to complete work on the legislation."

Governor Holden and the House leadership must under-stand how serious this problem is," Kinder said. "The Missouri Senate understands and we are ready to help and hope to have the assistance of the Governor's office and the House of Representatives."

Last week, the leaders of several farm and business groups called upon the governor and the House and the Senate to solve this pending crisis in a special session expected to be called in September. These groups included Missouri Farm Bureau; MFA, Inc.; Missouri Bankers Association; Missouri Sheep Producers, Inc.; Missouri Cattlemen's Association; Missouri Dairy Association; Missouri League of Financial Institutions; Farm Credit Services of Eastern Missouri; Missouri Livestock Marketing Association; Progressive Farm Credit Services; and Farm Credit Services of Western Missouri.

"Every major farm organization understands we have to address this problem now," Cauthorn said. "There is too much at stake to make farm families and their communities suffer by waiting until next year for a solution to this mess."

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