Missouri Dairy Applauds Governor Nixon’s Signing Dairy Act  09/01/15 8:25:50 PM

The Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) applauds Governor Jay Nixon for signing the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015 into law.  

The Governor signed the Act at Edgewood Dairy, near Purdy, Missouri, owned by MDA member Charles and Melissa Fletcher, before a crowd of 200 dairy producers, local FFA students and industry representatives.

“We thank the Governor for recognizing the needs of maintaining a local milk supply for all Missouri consumers and our processing industry by helping Missouri’s dairy farmers with their risk management program,” says MDA President Lloyd Gunter, a dairy farmer from Conway, Missouri. “This represents an accumulation of work over the last eight years by MDA to educate our state’s elected  leaders and gain the support of many of Missouri’s mainstream agriculture organizations."

The Missouri Senate, in a strong bipartisan vote of 31-2 passed the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015 (HB 259).  HB 259, sponsored by Representative Bill Reiboldt (R-160), cleared the Missouri House of Representatives by a vote of 110-49. 

“The Missouri General Assembly did their part,” says Gunter. "We hope HB 259 will help curb the decline in Missouri dairies and provide opportunities for young people entering into the dairy business and furthering their education in ag related fields."

Missouri is the first state to pass this landmark dairy legislation that enhances the dairy title provisions of the federal Farm Bill. HB 259 requires the Missouri Department of Agriculture to establish a dairy producer insurance premium assistance program for producers who participate in the federal margin protection program for dairy producers.  

Participating producers will be reimbursed for 70 percent of their federal premium payment. The program will be administered by the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA).

Furthermore, HB 259 establishes the Missouri Dairy Scholars Program. This program makes available 80 scholarships at $5,000 each toward tuition at any college or university in Missouri for students in agriculture-related degree programs that make a commitment to work in the agriculture industry. 

Additionally, under this act, the University of Missouri's Commercial Agriculture program will conduct an annual study of the dairy industry, and develop a plan to grow the dairy industry in Missouri.  

“Concern for job stability and economic activity in Missouri were the driving forces for support of these dairy provisions,” says Gunter. “With the loss of dairy farms continuing in Missouri at an alarming rate due to drought and poor margins, the pressure of finding local milk for our 15 dairy processing plants has reached a critical stage."  

A University of Missouri study showed in 2011 that Missouri’s dairy product manufacturing industries directly employed 5,515 workers with a total state payroll of $258 million. Missouri's dairy manufacturing plants produced an estimated $4.4 billion worth of dairy products.

Missouri’s dairy product manufacturing industry revenues translated into statewide total economic output worth $7.7 billion. When you include the jobs, created at the farm level and with additional suppliers, a total of 23,297 jobs were supported providing $1.2 billion in labor income to Missourians in 2011.

“Missouri’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.0 billion larger due to the value added by Missouri’s dairy product manufacturing industries,” says Gunter. “Our industry means a lot to Missouri and to our consumers. But it all starts at the farm with the dairy farmer and his/her cows furnishing the local milk supply.” 

Missouri’s agriculture groups were united in their support of HB 259 with many testifying at various hearings including the Missouri Dairy Products Association, Dairy Farmers of America, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Soybean Association, MO-AG, MFA Inc. along with students from the University of Missouri.
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