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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

Retiring reps highlight state ag legislation

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

(Photo)
Peter Myers
BENTON - Retiring state legislators are proud of the work they have done to help farmers, especially dealing with eminent domain.

"It could be improved - it's not perfect," said Peter Myers. "But it's a very good bill."

Pressed by groups like Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri's eminent domain laws were reformed during the 2006 legislative session to protect private property rights and increase compensation to individuals. On Tuesday evening, approximately 150 members of the Scott County Farm Bureau met for the group's annual meeting to hear Myers and Lanie Black update them on legislative issues of interest, while conducting other business and hearing committee reports.

"It's all run by the Scott County Board," Shirley Forck, secretary at the Benton office said of the meeting. The organization formed locally in 1915 and has been holding the meeting every since, as outlined in the bylaws.

"We try to let all of our members know what we have done for them in the past year," Forck said. "We work on the resolutions and anything of any concern or interest to the members can be brought up at the time and presented."

Myers and Black were also bestowed "Friend of Agriculture" Awards from the organization, an honor Farm Bureau has given to state legislators for many years.

The two often work behind the scenes. "We work in the background," Myers said, referring to Black's efforts to get the ethanol plant in Scott City. Both served on the budget committee; they also worked on legislation concerning ethanol and biodiesel.

Other legislation, such as animal identification and immigration, which Myers said is important to farmers who use migrant workers, were discussed.

Black said his experience in Jefferson City has been "good but difficult sometimes." For him, one of the most difficult parts was balancing the budget with the interests of residents.

Health care is a huge issue in the current campaign, Black said. But he urged people to be skeptical of campaign promises to restore funds. "We either have to raise taxes or continue to be very conservative," he said.

Myers also emphasized the importance of health care, especially for children, disabled and the elderly. "We've got some tough choices to make," he said.

Both reflected on memories they have had in serving the area. "It's been a real treat," Black said. Serving has helping him meet people and learn about their priorities, plus learn more about the area he represents.

Members can get their opinions heard by completing a questionnaire that covers "upcoming legislative issues that are of interest and concern to our members," Forck said. "Of course Farm Bureau as an organization is what we consider a farming organization so most of our interests are based on farm needs, although other interests are also brought in."

As an example, some issues only affect those involved in agriculture, like agricultural research, farm policy and agricultural credit, while others, like the seat belt law and telecommunications, affect a larger body.

Members' responses and concerns will be reflected with lobbyists in the state capital. "We have people is Jefferson City who work with the legislature and push for what we feel is of the best interest to farmers and the members," Forck said.

Board members Suzy Johnson of Vanduser, Edward Dement of Sikeston, John Felter of Benton and Jeff Scherer of Scott City all had expired terms and were re-elected to three-year terms. There were no nominations for the position vacated by Edward Dement of Sikeston, and it will be filled at a later time.

Although the meeting focuses on updating members and assessing their needs, there's a bit of fun to be had, too. Members also learned about their benefits, and were treated to musical entertainment by member John Engram and his daughter, Elizabeth, of Sikeston. Door prizes, a meal and booths set up with member benefits and information helped members to learn and visit with their friends and those with common interests.

"It's a good way to get together and socialize," Forck said. "To see other members and discuss items of interest."