Legislative column

With the celebration of National Agriculture Day on Tuesday, March 21, I thought it would be a great time to discuss how important agriculture is to the economy of the 33rd District and the state. Missouri’s No. 1 industry is agriculture, with a more than $88 billion economic impact on Missouri in 2016. The agriculture and forestry industry, which are prevalent in Texas County, contributed to more than 378,000 statewide jobs with an estimated $1.5 billion in labor income to workers across the state.

Recently, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Department of Agriculture and other groups commissioned a study, which examined the county by county impacts of our state’s largest industry. The study shows crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries productions contributed more than $9.4 billion to the economy; while agricultural inputs and services contributed more than $5 billion. Texas County’s 1,296 farms cover a total of 392,248 acres and contribute more than $411.9 million in total sales to the state.

The eight counties in the 33rd District account for just over $2.4 billion of the state’s total agriculture and forestry related revenue. Texas County alone receives an estimated $17.9 million in tax revenues because of all of the hard work of farmers in the county. In this county alone there are 1,972 agriculture jobs.

In this region where farming is a way of life, it can be easy to forget how much the rest of the state depends on the hard work and daily contributions that go into running a successful farming operation. As a farmer who still tends to my own horses and can even be found out cutting hay, I understand the hard work and dedication of our area’s farmers, and farmers across the state. I commend you for your passion to the industry and I am dedicated to passing meaningful legislation that will help all Missouri farmers.

Mike Cunningham is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate, representing District 33. Contact him at 573-751-1882 or www.senate.mo.gov/cunningham

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