That was part of the message delivered by Missouri Farm Bureau Vice-President Todd Hayes during a September 6 speech to a 17-member audience at the Centralia Golf and Social Club.
Hayes, a cattle and row crop farmer from the Monroe City area, said the Farm Bureau was formed in 1915 by a group of farmers who decided Missouri farmers needed a voice in state policy and legislative issues.
Since then, Hayes said, Farm Bureau has 112 local offices across the state, divided in to six districts.
The bureau’s home office has 200 employees. In addition to a staff of 15 lobbyists, and “we hope we can get these trade issues worked out,” he said regarding current events.”
By that he means the retaliatory tariffs, American farmers in the soybean, pork, corn and other sectors are facing.
He took a few moments to explain to the 13 members of the Centralia Kiwanis Club in the audience, many in charge of local businesses, why the tariffs affect more than Missouri’s farmer.
“Yes, those tariff’s affect farmers’ prices and income, but it doesn’t stop there,” Hayes said. “In times like these, famers don’t have the funds to donate to local causes, don’t have as much money to spend at local grocery stores, so yes, this goes all the way down to the grass-roots economy.
“We’d rather not have that aid,” Hayes said of the government assistance headed toward farmers in certain sectors. “We’d rather be moving our product instead of getting aid. We’d much rather see that trade deal straightened out”
Another issue concerning the Farm Bureau, Hays said is Proposition D. It puts the bureau in, for them in the rare position of supporting a tax increase. “The 17-cents-a-gallon state transportation fuel tax put in effect in 1996 is now worth eight cents,” Hayes said. “Input costs have gone up, maintenance costs on roads and bridges have gone up. We have come to the point where we need to improve our roads and bridges.
He said the tax would raise $400 million and about 20 percent of fuel tax funds go to Missouri cities and counties That would include, Hayes said, $900 thousand for Boone County and $63,000 for Centralia.
He also said the bureau was supporting the drive to bring broad band internet to Missouri’s rural counties. “Outside our communities, 60 percent of the people say they have poor or no internet.” He said it could take collaboration with the state’s rural electric cooperatives and the University of Missouri Extension to bring broadband to rural areas. “This could take a public-private partnership to make it happen,” Hayes said. “And again, it won’t just benefit farms, but small town businesses, would also benefit.