This week, the Missouri House of Representatives passed the “Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2014,” a bill that could help the future of the state’s dairy farming.
According to KFEQ News, the bill, known as HB 1326, was passed by an overwhelming vote of 137-4.
“We are very pleased our Representatives recognized the plight of Missouri’s dairy industry in meeting the need for local milk for our 15 dairy processing plants,” says Larry Purdom, president of the Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) and a dairy farmer from Purdy. “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 plants has reached a critical stage. One plant closed last year at Monett with the loss of 60 jobs.”
Ted Barlows, president of the Missouri Dairy Products Association (MDPA) and Sales Manager for Hiland Dairy in Springfield, Mo., explained that the concern for job stability and economic activity are huge favors behind passing this bill.
“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,” he said. “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.”
According to Ozark First, the bill includes an insurance-related policy that would pay dairy farmers’ premiums up to a certain point so they wouldn’t have to pay these premiums themselves.
"It comes out of taxes on current dairy products," says David Gunter, owner of Gunter Farms in Conway, Mo. "That fund currently goes into general revenue and it will move from general revenue to this program. It's no new taxes."
The bill now heads to the state senate for consideration.