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Source: Missouri Cattlemen's Assn news release

Missouri Cattlemen's Association [1](MCA) President Jim McCann calls success during the 2014 legislative session a victory for Missouri cattle farmers and ranchers.

Two omnibus bills (HB 1326 and SB 506), referred to as farm bills, passed the Missouri General Assembly this week with what McCann calls "tremendous bipartisan support." HB 1326 and SB 506 are similar and combine many of the same bills previously filed separately.

McCann said the omnibus bills include an amendment from Rep. Bart Korman (R-42) increasing the hauling limits for livestock to 85,500 pounds.

Reps. Casey Guernsey (R-2) and Denny Hoskins (R-54) previously filed legislation that would increase the hauling limits for agricultural products.

"It would have been best to have passed legislation to increase the hauling limits for all of agriculture, but this was a compromise that moved forward important policy that MCA has been working on for nearly a decade," he said. "This will benefit cattlemen and is an important step forward for all of agriculture."

Legislation striking language currently in Missouri statute prohibiting Missouri beef producers from establishing a state beef checkoff was also included in both omnibus bills.

The legislation was previously filed in the House by Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-160) and in the Senate by Sen. David Sater (R-29).

The legislation does not establish a state checkoff.

According to McCann, striking the prohibition on a state checkoff simply allows producers to vote whether or not they want to establish a state checkoff to promote beef in Missouri.

He said if cattlemen decide to establish a state beef checkoff, a refund would be available to producers unable or unwilling to invest.

All but four states have equine activity statutes designed to limit liability for horse-related activities. Both omnibus bills include legislation sponsored by Sen. Sater and Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R-39) that would extend the equine activity statute to also include livestock activities.

The revised statute would state that a "livestock activity
sponsor; livestock owner; livestock facility; livestock auction market; or any employee thereof is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine or livestock activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine or livestock activities pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri." McCann said this language will need to appear on a warning sign posted at the livestock facility.

"This is a huge win for the entire beef cattle industry. This issue was led by MCA all the way. Our association took the idea from the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, which successfully pushed a nearly identical bill through their legislature last year," he said.

Finally, both omnibus bills include language originally sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-50) and Sen. Dan Brown (R-16) establishing a student loan forgiveness program for approved veterinary students who practice in underserved areas. The program will be known as the "Dr. Merrill Townley Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program."

Townley served in the Missouri legislature for 20 years. Townley was an active member of MCA and received the Pioneer Award, which McCann called the "highest distinction" in the association. Sen. Brown's legislation is also included in SB 492, which has also been passed by the legislature.

MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering said the bills now move to the governor's desk where he has 45 days to decide whether or not to sign the legislation.

"We urge Governor Jay Nixon to take note of the overwhelming bipartisan support these farm bills received from both chambers. We encourage the governor to support cattlemen and all of agriculture by swiftly signing into law both HB 1306 and SB 506," said Deering.

"Agriculture is the steam engine of this state's economy and the governor needs to do everything possible to keep family farmers and ranchers in business and ensure young people have a fighting chance in this industry."

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