By Garrett Hawkins
After three weeks of debate and negotiations, the Missouri legislature reauthorized targeted agricultural tax credits as part of a broad agriculture legislative package. Most of the agricultural tax credit programs expired at the end of last year. This bill renews the programs for six years, providing tax relief for Missourians and businesses investing in rural communities.
The House first passed HB 3 by an 83-28 vote, followed by the Senate’s 26-3 approval. Governor Parson moved quickly to sign the legislation, which will go into effect on January 3, 2023. Many of these programs have been tested over the years and are proven to bring jobs and investment to rural Missouri.
Businesses that want to start or expand operations need long-term certainty to make smart choices and investments. Farmers and other rural businesses also deserve to be treated the same as their urban and suburban neighbors.
In the spring, Governor Parson vetoed a similar bill that only renewed the expired programs for two years. He rightly pointed out that many urban and suburban programs had received a standard six-year authorization. He said he believes farmers and rural residents deserve to be treated fairly and equally. This new six-year reauthorization provides just that.
Some examples of the programs included in this bipartisan legislation are the New Generation Cooperative Incentive Tax Credit, Agricultural Product Utilization Tax Credit and Meat Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit. Each of these targeted programs promotes the creation or expansion of rural businesses that grow the agricultural economy and diversify our food, fiber and fuel supply chain. It creates the Specialty Agricultural Crops Act, which will help specialty farmers provide locally grown food to Missourians.
The bill extends the Missouri Wood Energy Tax Credit six years, which helps Missourians dispose of wood waste that can become an environmental hazard. The bill even has some crossover of traditional constituencies, creating an Urban Farm Tax Credit that runs through 2028.
The bill also addressed a handful of other issues that needed attention. It makes clear that certain farm machinery and equipment used for any agricultural purpose, including UTVs, are exempt from sales tax. It also clarifies some ambiguity in the definitions of “local log truck” and “local log truck tractor” and sets fines for their load-limit violations. These seemingly minor items, if left unaddressed, can actually be incredibly frustrating for citizens to navigate. It is encouraging to see the legislature come together to take care of everyday concerns and make our state’s laws work better for its people.
All too often, we are frustrated by the arduous legislative process standing in the way of getting common-sense laws passed. We appreciate Governor Parson and leaders in the House and Senate putting their heads down and doing what it took to pass HB 3. We often say that what is good for rural Missouri is good for the state. I appreciate our leaders in Jefferson City recognizing this and getting the job done by passing this bill.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Garrett Hawkins is a farmer from Appleton City and serves as the President of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest and most effective farm organization with a presence in every county throughout the state.