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Missouri News Horizon - Op-ed: "Another Chance to Stand up for Rural Missouri'


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By U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill; Billy Thiel, President of the Missouri Corn Growers Association; and Larry Purdom, President of the Missouri Dairy Association

Folks in Missouri won't find it surprising that a lot of people in Washington, D.C., just don't get what it means to be from rural America. But an important debate happening right now in the U.S. Senate gives us a chance to bring that perspective to Washington--to strengthen resources for family farms and ranches in our communities, to support jobs and reduce the deficit, and to show some Missouri common sense to the leaders of Congress.

This week, the Senate continues debate on the Farm Bill--a huge undertaking every five years that affects American jobs and agriculture in every state and every community in the country.

This legislation touches every American family and business. And as this debate continues, we plan to work together to protect crucial resources that enable Missouri's crop producers to manage risk and Missouri's dairy farmers to cope with high costs--resources that ensure our country has reliable access to safe and affordable food. We also plan to work together to fight any nonsense rules and regulations that would hurt our farms and ranches in Missouri.

It's a lack of rural perspective that led some bureaucrats to propose last summer that local producers should be required to have commercial driver's licenses to drive their equipment on roads in their own communities. Then the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started reviewing possible rules for "nuisance dust"--a category that could include simple farm dust from unpaved roads and everyday farming activity. And very recently, some bureaucrats in Washington came up with an idea for new child labor rules that could prevent our kids and grandkids from helping out on family farms and ranches.

Talk about out of touch. That lack of perspective threatens Missouri agriculture, and a way of life that stretches back generations. That's why--in each of those cases--we worked together to put a stop to each of the proposed rules and regulations.

The Farm Bill is an opportunity to address challenges facing our rural communities, on issues that include shoring up resources for family agriculture, guarding against unreasonable regulations, keeping Farm Service Agency offices open, strengthening rural broadband access--and most importantly, supporting agriculture jobs and business across the country.

The Senate's version of the Farm Bill also reduces the national deficit by more than $23 billion in a responsible, bipartisan way.

Families who make their living off the land face unique challenges and opportunities that people in Washington might not understand. But coming from rural Missouri, we do understand--and we carry Missouri values with us in this debate, including hard work and compromise.

That's the kind of perspective we need to tackle these issues. And in the coming days, we hope to see strong bipartisan support for a Farm Bill that meets the needs of Missouri's families.

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