Friday, August 19, 2016
Billy Long: Agriculture community burdened with too much red tape
Since 1901, the Missouri State Fair has been a focal point for our state's agricultural industry, enthusiasts, and families making the trip to Sedalia to join in the festivities surrounding it. The agriculture industry is a vital part of Missouri's economy, and the annual fair has always been a measure for our economy's advancement.
As I attended this year's fair, I was impressed but not surprised with the quality of innovations and products coming from Missouri agriculture. I was especially pleased to learn that a trend has been reversed. That is there has been a strong uptick in children of farmers deciding to go into farming as opposed to moving off the farm as has been the case in recent years.
Agriculture and the science related to advancing it make up one of our state's top five industries, and contribute to our state's cattle market, dairy, soybeans, corn, hogs, broiler chickens, hay and other commodities, According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information center in 2014, Agribusinesses made up more than 100,000 entities and hundreds of thousands of workers.
What is disappointing, however, is that the agriculture community is burdened with too much federal bureaucratic red-tape and stifling regulations that I have prioritized working to cut back ever since I took office. Meanwhile, time being spent fighting back overgrowth at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is wasted considering that solutions for advancement go unmoved.
For instance, take bringing rural broadband and its innovative agriculture benefits to farmers and ranchers who are a part of the near million Missourians without high-speed internet access in rural areas. As the core of Missouri's cattle production - the 3rd largest agricultural industry in our state - ranchers could keep track of their livestock with mobile tracking technologies.
Many of these folks are in my district, and across Missouri, are farmers and ranchers who could benefit from internet speeds that would support newer technologies.
At the same time, our agricultural prosperity has been stunted by the last near decade of environmental rules passed by the Obama Administration, and I took part in a joint press conference at the fair bringing attention to harmful policies like the EPA's unconstitutional regulations in the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rules and extremely juvenile policies regulating well-established crop defending pesticides.
It is important that Congress support the growth and development of the agriculture industry by fighting for policies that will encourage economic growth in Missouri and nationwide. When we passed the most recent five-year farm bill on July 11, 2013, it was a major step against the practice of simply extending previous farm bills for shorter unreliable lengths of time – a tactic used nearly 40 times since the 1930s. We need to continue fighting for long-term five-year farm bills that give agribusinesses long-term certainty so that they can plan efficiently and begin working proactively, rather than reacting to federal intrusions unapproved by our constitutional legislative process.
The United States has been the world's leading agricultural producer for many years and with our vast natural resources we need to keep it that way. Agricultural products are a source of significant exports, which benefits our overall economy while providing Americans with a stable, safe, and nutritious food supply.