“Agriculture remains one of my top priorities,” Blunt said. “Missouri farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the world, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with Missouri Farm Bureau to help them continue their great work.”
Noting the average age of a Missouri farmer is 59, Blunt said we will see a shift in agricultural leadership in the next decade or so. He said the next challenge will be helping young farmers get started and mentoring them as they take the reigns from a generation that has provided great leadership. He discussed legislation he signed this year that will waive interest payments for one year for many young farmers, thereby reducing their risk. He also announced he will be asking the legislature to increase the amount of tax credits available through the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority from $6 million to $10 million.
The governor emphasized the fact that the number of dairy operations and dairy cows has been diminishing and said he wants to work with the General Assembly to pass legislation to create grants to help new dairies start and existing dairy operations to expand.
Blunt reminded Farm Bureau members that American farmers fed the world in the last century. He predicted that they will fuel the world in the new century, and will help the United States address our dependence on foreign oil. Touting legislation he signed creating a 10 percent ethanol (E-10) standard for Missouri, Blunt said the new E-10 standard as well as the expansion of E-85 will help alleviate that problem. He also thanked Missouri Farm Bureau for supporting him as he proposed and signed budgets that included full funding for the ethanol producer incentive fund as well as funding for back payments from previous years that were not honored before he assumed office. He announced that the budget he submits to the Missouri General Assembly in January will again include full funding for both the biodiesel and ethanol incentive funds.
Blunt also thanked Missouri Farm Bureau for their help in passing eminent domain legislation he signed into law this year, which requires condemning authorities to pay relocation costs to individuals who are displaced by eminent domain. He also highlighted his branding efforts for Missouri-made beef, and reiterated his belief that Missouri farmers should be compensated for the high quality of their beef. Missouri is home to more than 67,000 beef producers and ranks second nationally in its cow/calf number, with more than $3.7 billion in revenue generated annually.