“Southern Missouri is home to the most diverse Agriculture found anywhere in the country.” It is a line I have repeated more times than I can count. It is what I say when educating other elected officials serving in the U.S. Congress who might think of us as flyover country, or when I talk to Washington bureaucrats who have never stepped foot in Missouri let alone on a farm. I’m quick to point out how drastically different and more costly their lives and the lives of the folks they represent would be if it wasn’t for Missouri Ag. We truly feed and clothe the world and do so with the humility and hard work needed every day to get the job done, no matter what.
July 29th marks the start of a tradition I have continued as your Representative and am honored to take part in every summer – visiting 30 unique farm and farming related operations across the 30 counties of our area which encompass the 8th Congressional District. While I hold public forums and site visits and spend time with as many families, farmers and business owners I can across our area throughout the year – the month of August, free of Congressional votes, provides a great opportunity for me to connect with the farmers and business owners in our area who work the land each and every day to provide for the world. I love hearing about how their operations are going, how things have changed over the last year, what emerging issues or threats they are facing and how I can help. It is a great reminder for me of just how unique our area is and how much we provide to others. This summer I’ll be visiting with sheep farmers in Crawford county, fruit farmers in Cape, cattle farmers in Howell, a watermelon farm in Dunklin, a feed mill in Ozark, a cotton gin in Pemiscot, a dairy farm in Perry, timber mill in Reynolds, a chicken farm in Scott, a rice farm in Stoddard and so many others. It truly is a great opportunity to see the new ways our area farmers are innovating to get the most out of their land and inspires me to continue the fight for their freedom to work their land without the heavy hand of the government interfering in their success.
Back in 2016, it was less than five months after the conclusion of my summer farm visits that I sat across from folks with the President’s transition team and provided them with regulation after regulation mentioned by our farmers which was overly burdensome on their ability to operate. In the subsequent twelve months, marking his first year in office, President Trump had directly repealed, suspended or removed more than half of those identified by our area farmers. It is exactly that kind of impact and relief I knew this Administration would bring and why I was so adamant about helping our President succeed.
I am honored that in the first week of our farm visits, the President will be sending a member of his Cabinet, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler to join us for a roundtable with farmers. No single agency has removed more onerous regulations on farmers than the EPA, removing some of the most costly and intrusive of the almost 4,000 rules and regulations added by the EPA under President Obama. This has included burdensome regs which made little sense like the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule which would have required the federal regulation of every drop of water on a farmer’s land. The Administrator will be giving our farmers a chance to highlight what has been helpful, what has worked and what further relief the Administration can continue to provide.
From federal regulations, to the cost of healthcare, skilled worker shortages as a result of competing against federal welfare programs, an often times unpredictable growing environment, or global market access issues – there is no shortage of challenges facing our Missouri farmers. As a 4th generation family farm owner myself, I take special pride, dedication and determination in representing and fighting for our farming families. I look forward to connecting with those roots and seeing so many of you over the next month. As always, you can keep up with my visits on Facebook or Twitter (@repjasonsmith). I hope to see you out on the road this summer!
Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit https://jasonsmith.house.gov