Deer controversy clouds Missouri ag bill

  • A provision in the Senate and House versions of the Missouri Omnibus Agriculture Bill shifts authority over Missouri’s captive deer herds from the state’s Department of Conservation to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

    The Missouri Department of Conservation is against the change.  Deputy Director Tim Ripperger says, captive or not, his agency should retain authority over deer in Missouri.

    “Most deer in Missouri are not raised for food consumption, but are actually raised to go into big hunting pens or big game hunting preserves,” Ripperger told Brownfield Ag News Monday, “and that’s something that the Department of Conservation does regulate, including elk in that regard.”

    Missouri Dairy Association Executive Director Dave Drennan says controversy surrounding the captive deer provision is taking attention away from the bill’s other provisions that benefit agriculture in the state.  Drennan says editorials in some of Missouri’s major newspapers against the deer provision leave the impression that there’s little else in the legislation.

    “All of our other issues in these Omnibus Ag bills have taken a back burner,” Drennan told Brownfield.

    Among many agriculture provisions in the bill, Drennan says there’s one that could improve the state’s declining dairy industry.  For Missouri dairy farmers, there’s a provision that dovetails with the Federal Farm Bill’s dairy margin protection program.

    “Right now Missouri has the opportunity to be a leader amongst all other states and adopt a program that would provide some kind of support to our dairy farmers in this state to maintain a local milk supply,” said Drennan, “and more importantly maintain our dairy processing industry and our infrastructure in this state.”

    Drennan says the dairy provision, known as the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act, is among several that benefit agriculture.

    Another increases the hauling limits for livestock on Missouri highways, while another modifies provisions relating to evidence of financial responsibility for certified commercial pesticide applicators.

    Livestock producers back a provision in the legislation that enables Missouri cattle producers the opportunity to vote whether or not they want to increase their investment in the Missouri beef checkoff.  They also favor a provision that extends the equine liability waiver to all livestock, as well as the provision that continues the large animal veterinarian student loan program.

    A dozen of the state’s ag groups are urging Governor Nixon to sign the legislation.

    AUDIO: Dave Drennan (5 min. MP3)

    AUDIO: Tim Ripperger (4 min. MP3)

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