Marion County Farm Bureau members filled Hall’s Hall in Palmyra for their annual meeting on Monday, Jan. 29, looking ahead to activities for members young and old and reviewing upcoming legislation pertaining to agriculture.

Marion County Farm Bureau members filled Hall’s Hall in Palmyra for their annual meeting on Monday, Jan. 29, looking ahead to activities for members young and old and reviewing upcoming legislation pertaining to agriculture.

Missouri Farm Bureau Legislative Director Spencer Tuma delved into legislative topics at the state and federal level, detailing the progress of the forthcoming Farm Bill which would replace the existing bill on Sept. 30, 2018. She encouraged members to contact legislators and make their voices heard regarding topics like the Missouri Clean Water Commission’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC). A Missouri Department of Natural Resources study found that using EPA’s NNC would be significantly more costly and restrictive for Missourians.

Tuma took out her smartphone and showed members how to advocate for this agriculture-related issue through the Missouri Farm Bureau’s Action Center at www.mofb.org/MFBActionCenter.aspx . Missouri Farm Bureau encouraged advocates to submit comments to the EPA in support of Missouri’s NNC criteria by Monday, Feb. 26.

She said members of Congress plan to approve the Farm Bill in the House and Senate and prepare it for President Donald Trump’s signature before the existing bill expires. Tuma said she heard discussions that the bill text could be heard early in February and could reach committee by Valentine’s Day.

“We’re very excited about that. As you are probably well aware — Missouri Farm Bureau’s number one priority with the 2018 Farm Bill is maintaining crop insurance,” she said. “And I cannot overstate how important that is to Missouri Farm Bureau members and to farmers and ranchers across the nation.”

Tuma said the national delegation shared the Missouri Farm Bureau’s stance, along with Trump. The President recently visited the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Nashville, where he “emphasized the importance of a Farm Bill with a very strong crop insurance program.”

Broadband internet is another important issue for the Missouri Farm Bureau and related to the Farm Bill. Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation in broadband access, and Tuma said broadband access is crucial for driving economic development in the Show Me State. She said Governor Eric Greitens established an Office of Broadband to help change the current accessibility shortages. At the federal level, Trump could include a broadband initiative as part of his infrastructure plan during the State of the Union address.

“Broadband really is the way of the future,” Tuma said. “It’s becoming more of a necessity, rather than a luxury. It’s something that’s really important not only to our farmers and ranchers, but to our small owner business owners, to our rural communities, to our students.”

Marion County President Joe Kendrick shared several upcoming Marion County Farm Bureau events focused on youth interested in farming, ranching and advocating for agriculture. He also announced two $500 scholarships from the Marion County Farm Bureau Board of Directors for eligible seniors in Marion County who are involved in agriculture or agribusiness.

Kendrick recognized several legislators and officials on hand for the meeting, including Bryan Nichols from Sam Graves office, State Representative candidates Louis Riggs, Loren Graham, Missouri Farm Bureau Vice President Todd Hays, Drew Locke and Steve Roberts with the State Board, and Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd.

Locke shared a proposal set for a the November ballot that would enact a 10-cent gasoline tax and a 12-cent diesel tax. He said he encouraged members to offer their opinions about the proposal. He said Missouri Farm Bureau members will bring representatives from the local region to Jefferson City for a meeting with legislators Tuesday, March 6, as the farmers and ranchers look to the growing season ahead.

Kendrick said he regularly keeps an eye on market outlooks, and dairy producers are dealing with a large surplus of milk — resulting in a lower market value. He said world weather patterns like a recnelt dry spell in Argentina can profoundly affect the price of crops.

“We’ve seen over the course of the last seven to 10 days impressive gains in the grain market, and most of that is weather-induced,” Kendrick said. “There are some opportunities there.”

He said that cold weather has affected wheat crop outlooks, and that pulled up the prices for other grains like corn and soybeans. Kendrick emphasized that the ground was very dry right now, and farmers were looking forward to some timely rain to restore moisture levels.

With spring drawing nearer, the Marion County Farm Bureau has several events planned for the season ahead. Kendrick said the week of Feb. 4 through Feb. 10 is “Thank a Farmer Week,” and a Coffee and Donuts For Farmers event will take place at 8:30 a.m. at F&T Livestock Market on Highway 24 in Palmyra.

Marion County Farm Bureau members will also host a Legislative Banquet at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Hall’s Hall. The event is open to the public, and will include a soup supper. Local, state and national legislators will be invited to speak and answer questions. The Marion County Outlook Meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14, at Hats Restaurant. A presentation regarding market outlooks will be presented by Marion County Young Farmers and Farm Bureau Director of Commodities Kelly Smith, and Allen Gard will serve a meal.

At the conclusion of the annual meeting, board members Joe Kendrick and Jamie and Megan Gottman were elected. Board officers for 2018 will be President Joe Kendrick, Vice President Ralph Griesbaum, Treasurer Megan Gottman and Secretary Cindy Griesbaum.

For more information about the Marion County Farm Bureau or upcoming events, please call 573-769-4719 or visit https://www.mofbinsurance.com/Agent/BryanBartz.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com