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Mayer: New agriculture bill gets favorable response

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Article from The Daily Dunklin Democrat

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri's newly enacted agriculture bill is already garnering a favorable response from Southeast Missouri farmers who are benefitting from the state sales tax exemption on diesel fuel purchased for agricultural purposes.

State *Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, supported the cost-saving measure and other provisions of the omnibus agriculture bill (Senate Bill 931) -- the first one to pass the General Assembly in three years.

"This sales tax exemption on diesel fuel is one of the major benefits of the agricultural bill that is already having a positive effect on our rural economy by keeping more money in the pockets of our hard-working farmers," Sen. Mayer said. "With diesel fuel currently averaging over $4 per gallon, it translates into a lot of savings for farmers."

The new law also provides a sales tax exemption for fencing supplies.

"The tax exemption on fencing supplies has been on rural Missouri's wish list for decades and this will really help livestock producers reduce some of their costs," Sen. Mayer said.

Another key provision of the agricultural bill includes keeping participation in the United States Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program voluntary for Missouri farmers and ranchers.

Under the new law, the Missouri Department of Agriculture cannot mandate registration under the NAIS program -- a government-run program that identifies and tracks specific livestock to monitor animal health -- unless authorized by the Missouri General Assembly.

"I supported the measure to protect farmers' property rights from governmental intrusion and to protect them from having to shell out money for microchips and scanners and all of the equipment needed to comply with the NAIS," Sen. Mayer said.

Other major components of the agricultural bill include: a tax credit for building alternative fuel stations; a sales tax exemption for forestry equipment; and allowing fuel ethanol made from biomass to qualify for the fuel ethanol production incentive payments.

In addition, the new law adds spotted knapweed to the state's noxious weed list to help reduce the spread of the harmful weed. Although relatively new in Missouri, spotted knapweed is a serious pasture problem that crowds out desirable pasture and hay species.

"Missouri agriculture remains and will always be one of our state's top industries," Sen. Mayer said. "I am confident these new measures will go a long way in supporting our farmers' efforts to stay competitive and be successful."

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