Missouri is the first state to pass landmark dairy legislation that enhances the dairy title provisions of the recently passed federal Farm Bill.
The Missouri General Assembly approved provisions of the “Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2014”, with strong bi-partisan support, in Senate Bill 506, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Munzlinger (District 18), by a vote of 26-0 in the Senate; and House Bill 1326, sponsored by state Reps. Casey Guernsey (District 2) and Bill Reiboldt (District 160), by a vote of 101-38 in the House.
The act 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 (MPP-Dairy) producers. Under the program, participating dairy producers will be reimbursed for 70% of their federal premium payment.
Included in the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2014 are provisions to:
• establish 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.
• calls for the University of Missouri's commercial agriculture program to conduct an annual study of the dairy industry and develop a plan for how 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,” said 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 15 dairy processing plants has reached a critical stage. One plant closed at Monett last year with the loss of 60 jobs.
“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,” Purdom continued. “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,” Purdom said. “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.”
The bills now await the signature of Missouri Gov. Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon to become law.