Gov. Mike Parson and MDA Director Chris Chinn converge on the Ozarks for bill signing
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn recently stopped off at an Ozarks cattle operation to officially sign the state’s Farm Bill for the fiscal year 2019.
Speaking from the Long Lane, Mo., farm of cattleman Bruce Bradley in Dallas County, Mo., on June 28, Chinn said the total budget for the department stands at about $39 million, which is primarily generated through fee funds or grants from the federal government. Only $5 million of the MDA budget is funded through the state’s general revenue.
“We want to be very judicious with how we spend that money and that we can make taxpayers proud of the work we’re doing while still serving and protecting you,” Chinn said. “I really appreciate that Gov. Parson is going to sign our budget so we can continue to tell your story, to protect the livestock in the state and to protect all consumers who depend on us for safe food.”
Parson, a cattle producer from Polk County, Mo., and native of Hickory County, Mo., told the crowd of farmers and ranchers from three counties that he’s proud to be a farmer in Missouri.
“(Agriculture) is the number one industry in the state of Missouri, by far,” Parson said. “I can tell you this much, if there’s some money to be had, or if there’s a way to save some money to put more money in the budget for agriculture during my administration, we’re going to take agriculture to a whole new level in the state of Missouri and promote the farmers and ranchers of this state.”
Chinn, a row crop, cattle and hog farmer from Clarence, Mo., told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor the approval of the budget, which went into effect on July 1, would mean programs and services that impact Missouri agriculture will continue in FY2019.
“The department provides a lot of services, not only to farmers and ranchers, but to consumers all over the state. With our weights and measures program, we take care of all the small scales in the state, as well as the gas pumps, making sure consumers get that gallon of gas. Our grain division does of the grading of the grain before it leaves the state, so that’s important for commerce. This also helps us prevent diseases from coming into Missouri through our animal health programs so we can protect our livestock.”
The discovery of the Longhorned tick in Benton County, Ark., is one of the animal health concerns the department is currently monitoring.
“We work every day to ensure that the regulations in place are there to protect farmers and ranchers and that they aren’t overburdened,” Chinn said. “This bill helps us keep the doors open… It’s also really important that we reach those consumers in our urban areas who don’t know where their food comes from, and that’s really something we’re focused on at the department; reaching out, letting people know the good job Missouri’s farmers and ranchers are doing to produce safe food.”
The department’s budget for FY2019 remains at the same funding level from the 2018 fiscal year. Because the department has seen no dramatic cuts, Chinn is optimistic for the coming year.
“We were really excited to see our budget preserved this year,” she said. “This year, we had a lot of understanding from the Legislature and they realized the important role our department is playing. Our general revenue (funding) is only $5 million and agriculture is an $84 billion industry in the state and we have one of the smallest budgets in the state. We’re just like farmers and ranchers; we do as much as we can on little revenues and we’re proud of that.”