Parsons, Kansas —
The Missouri Cattlemen's Association (MCA) established policy priorities for 2014.
Policies were set recently when about 600 cattlemen and cattlewomen gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Mo., for the association's annual convention and trade show.
This was the 46th annual event. The organization's top policy priority does not need any action from the legislature, but will demand widespread education throughout the state.
"The Farming Rights Amendment passed out of the legislature last year and its fate will ultimately depend on the voters of Missouri. The amendment will forever guarantee the right of Missourians to farm and ranch in this state," said MCA Past President Chuck Massengill. "This is a proactive step to protect Missouri's farm and ranch families from out-of-state animal rights extremists. It also ensures consumer choice by protecting our food chain."
The association will pursue increasing the hauling limits in Missouri from 80,000 pounds to 85,500 pounds throughout the entire state. The increase would bring Missouri in line with several bordering states. MCA contends that increasing the hauling limits will save dollars and will increase the safety of both livestock and truck drivers.
MCA members are also eyeing issues that involve property rights. One issue is working with County Commissioners to take a closer look at the fencing laws in the state. Missouri currently has two fence laws; the general fence law and the local option fence law. MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering said the local option fence law increases livestock owners' rights.
Nearly 20 counties opted out of the general fence law and have adopted the local option.
Deering said MCA plans to work with individual counties to encourage adopting the local fence law.
Also regarding property rights is the issue of liability. Currently under Missouri law, liability for certain things on equine operations are waived.
MCA will be leading an effort to expand this protection for the entire livestock industry.
Along with these issues, Deering said a focus on minimizing the impact of property taxes on farmers and ranchers will be a priority. He said MCA will continue to work with state officials to revamp the current Trichomoniasis rule and to ensure a smooth process in enforcing the federal Animal Disease Traceability program. £