Governor Mike Parson is calling legislators back to Jefferson City in two weeks for a special legislative session to address a number of proposals to support the state’s farmers.
The governor in July vetoed a bill that included the extension or creation of tax credits benefitting urban and family farms, biodiesel producers, retailers of biodiesel and higher ethanol blends, meat processors and others. The governor said the two-year expiration proposed by the legislature for those credits wasn’t long enough, especially given that the legislature passed and he signed incentive programs with six-year sunsets for non-ag interests.
Representative Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia) carried that package of ag legislation, House Bill 1720.
“They’re important to the small farmer. These are not big corporate agriculture tax credits. These are family farm tax credits.”
Pollitt said giving farmers economic support is now more important than ever.
“We don’t want to go back to what happened in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in agriculture and I think these tax credits could be a great help to the agriculture folks in the State of Missouri,” said Pollitt. “That’s when a number of farmers went out of business because interest went up. Right now I think our fuel’s tripled or at least [two-and-a-half times as expensive], the input cost on fertilizer has [more than] doubled, so the input cost, no matter what you do in agriculture, has went up immensely … this is all contributing to a situation that could get bad.”
Tax credits always face a lot of opposition for a variety of reasons. Pollitt said he supports ag tax credits especially because when family farms go out of business, it is unlikely they will return.
“Corporate agriculture will take that over. I’m not opposed to corporations at all but if we want to keep the family farm in business then we have to give that family farm some incentives with these tax credits,” said Pollitt. “There are folks that don’t like tax credits. They say you’re giving somebody an unfair advantage. Well I don’t think any of the tax credits that we passed in the agriculture omnibus bill gives any farmer an advantage over anybody else. It gives them, actually, a level playing field.”
At least one of the tax credits that HB 1720 would have extended, for the Missouri Agricultural Small Business Development Authority, has already lapsed, and Pollitt said it does need an extension of more than 2 years.
“The MASBDA tax credits expired last December 31 so they are no longer in play. If you’re going to get somebody to invest in those MASBDA tax credits, four years is about the shortest you can go because of the process and so a 2-year MASBDA tax credit doesn’t work.”
The governor also called on the legislature to pass a plan to reduce income taxes for Missourians. Pollitt is supportive of that as well. All in all he believes this special session will be doing the work citizens want their legislature to do.
“I believe that the people in the state of Missouri would like to see an income tax cut but I think that the majority of the people understand that we can’t cut too deep. I think the majority of the people want to keep our family farms around and want to give those family farmers some incentives and some opportunities to increase their farms but at the same time stay in business, and that’s what this is about,” said Pollitt.
“I appreciate the governor’s efforts on this special session. He’s worked extremely hard, he’s traveled around the state and I know he’s met with all the ag groups numerous times, he’s met with as many legislators and senators that will meet.”
The special session will begin September 6.