Making a living in agriculture has never been more challenging. As a friend of mine in the cattle business says, "We have to use every thing but the moo". I supported Senate Bill 356 sponsored by Senator Munzlinger and Rep. Loehner, which was signed into law. This bill protects family farms from losses due to grain dealer failure, clarifies the tax exempt status of farm equipment and establishes the Missouri Farmland Trust Act which enables the Missouri Department of Agriculture to receive donated land to be preserved as farmland to help farmers just starting out with an opportunity to farm through a lease agreement.
Agriculture has been under attack both economically and by special interest groups. We made progress in helping farmers who not only feed us, but account for a large percentage of our international exports. I worked to increase our ability to export more food and expand processing in Missouri to create more jobs. In cooperation with rural representatives, we passed reasonable animal protection laws that respect agriculture. With more effective protections are now in place, those who abuse animals are more likely to be punished. I worked on legislation to deter situations as occurred in Gallatin, where farmers weren't paid for grain stored in a commercial elevator. New legislation now requires operators to have and maintain current assets at 100 percent of current liabilities. The omnibus agriculture bill also increases the minimum surety bond requirement for licensed dealers from $20,000 to $50,000 and the maximum from $300,000 to $600,000.
I also supported legislation assigning ownership of relocated elk to the Conservation Department, making them financially responsible for damage these animals cause. And finally, we passed limits on nuisance lawsuits against farmers. Senate Bill 187 contains changes that protect farmers from multiple, frivolous lawsuits once losses have been recovered. It also places caps on the size of monetary awards in nuisance lawsuits against farmers. These protections are vital for animal agriculture to remain viable in our state.
Supporting agriculture means more sales abroad and more jobs here at home.