The Missouri House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 391 Tuesday, May 14, 2019, with a 103-44 vote. The vote was the final hurdle for the legislation in the 2019 legislative session, which concludes Friday, May 17. The legislation now moves to Governor Mike Parson for his signature. The Missouri Cattlemen's Association was a driving force in moving the legislation forward and its president, Bobby Simpson, wasted no time in calling the passage a "historic victory" for farm and ranch families.
"This victory was the product of leaders and staff of nearly 30 groups standing together, dedicated House and Senate leadership, unwavering bill sponsors, and elected leaders willing to sort fact from fiction," said Simpson. "Above all else, dedicated farmers and ranchers made this happen. This is their win."
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bernskoetter (R-6) and led in the House by Rep. Mike Haffner (R-55), prevents county governments from passing rules and regulations on farm and ranch families that are more stringent than scientifically founded rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources and other agencies. Proponents argue that a patchwork of county-by-county regulations creates regulatory uncertainty for farm and ranch families and prevents them from expanding and stops new operations from starting. The list of proponents include nearly 30 organizations.
Opponents of the legislation include the Humane Society of the United States, Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Sierra Club. They argue that the legislation only benefits corporate farmers. Simpson said the wild accusations are false and a direct assault on farm and ranch families in the state. He said he is thankful legislators were willing to think independently and sort fact from fiction.
"One real story from the next generation wanting a future in Missouri agriculture is more powerful than 1,000 emails with activist talking points," said Simpson. "One real story from a farmer wanting to expand and create more economic activity does more than fear mongering. The opposition didn't have farmers and ranchers at the Capitol every single week of legislative session. Our association's Cowboys at the Capitol program worked. No bogus talking points, just real people with real stories."
Simpson is optimistic Governor Parson will sign the legislation.