A BRAC Roundtable and an agriculture tour, capped off by a visit to the State Fair – Missouri’s largest agricultural expo – highlighted a very busy in-district work week.
First, the military roundtable was attended by elected officials and stakeholders from throughout Missouri as we met in Columbia to discuss the importance of defense to the state and ways to highlight our missions in the event of a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
When President Obama and the Department of Defense proposed a new round of BRAC in their 2013 and 2014 budgets I felt it was imperative that stakeholders in defense communities across our state be proactive in addressing this concern. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I was able, along with my Missouri Senate colleagues – Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Claire McCaskill – to help squelch the BRAC proposal. But that may not always be the case in the future. With two major military installations in my district – Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base – I felt it was important to bring together state and local officials as well as business and community leaders from throughout the Fourth District and the entire state to discuss strategy in the event of a BRAC round.
A valuable part of this roundtable was a presentation of an Economic Impact Study on the importance of defense to Missouri, put together by Mike DuBois of Kit Bond Strategies. It showed what a huge impact defense has on the economy of our state. The estimated total economic impact is huge: Generating nearly $40 billion and creating 275,000 jobs. National defense is not a partisan issue. We must work together to prepare our state for the possibility of any BRAC affecting our military installations and defense communities so that we can better articulate why our missions are vital and why new missions should come to our state. While we don’t think a BRAC is in the interests of our country now, if it should come, we will be in a stronger position thanks to our joint efforts.
Our First Annual District 4 Farm Tour was a big success. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone and provided an excellent opportunity to visit with agriculture producers and experts from throughout the state. There is much to share with you regarding our Farm Tour and the feedback we received from the many fine citizens who attended our events. I’ll feature our Farm Tour in next week’s newsletter.
The Missouri State Fair took center stage this week as Missourians involved in agriculture came together to discuss the state of the industry and to discuss issues on their minds as they work hard each day to keep Americans fed with an abundant, affordable, and safe supply of food. It is an annual opportunity for ranchers and farmers to showcase their livestock and their yields. Seeing the animals, the winning pumpkin, and creative 4-H projects brought back memories for me. When I was a child, my family used to take a day away from the farm to travel to the State Fair. It was a lot of fun then, and it is a lot of fun now.
Agriculture is Missouri’s leading industry, and an important part of my visit to the State Fair this week was an agriculture listening session made up of individuals representing diverse interests of the agriculture industry in our district and across Missouri.
Those taking part in this well-attended meeting wanted an update on the Farm Bill as well as the likelihood of the House and Senate getting together and agreeing on a new bill before the current Farm Bill ends on Sept. 30. I am cautiously optimistic that we will have an agreement by the end of the year, but we’ll have to wait to see. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee who represents a rural district, this is one of my top priorities as I plan for Congress’ return to Washington in September.
Another issue that was addressed at this meeting is the burdensome regulations the federal government has created. The assault on common sense is never-ending. Over the last two years, the EPA has tried to regulate farm dust; the Department of Labor put forth rules which would have effectively banned young people from working on farms; and the Environmental Protection Agency tried to require dairy farmers to build containment walls around their milk tanks in case of a spill – since the EPA deemed milk fat as being equal to petroleum and could be a hazard to the environment in the event of a spill.
Government’s policies should encourage businesses like farming, rather than hurting them. Farmers should spend their time doing what they do best: Feeding the world rather than filling out paperwork for Washington. This is an area in which I am fighting hard for my district and, with the aid of other farm state representatives, are making a difference as we send a message to the Washington bureaucrats to leave our farms alone.
Next week, I’ll share some of the wonderful insight from farmers and ranchers I was pleased to meet with on our 2013 Farm Tour.
Have a great week.