VICKY'S VIEW: At the Fair!
At the Fair!
In late August I had the pleasure of visiting the Missouri State Fair and hosting an Advisory Roundtable. A big thank you to USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey for being my special guest!
Every year the famous Missouri State Fair is held right here in Sedalia. It began in 1901, and every year it lasts about two weeks. It features Missouri agriculture's best, including livestock judging, FFA and 4-H displays, tractor-pulling contests, butter cow carving, local music artists, concerts, a canned good art competition, and contests for the largest watermelon and pumpkin.
These little beekeepers enjoyed showing me their protection clothing!
I started the day by attending Governor Parson’s ham breakfast along with other Missouri office holders and community leaders. It was the 66th annual ham breakfast and Governor Parson’s first as governor! We also had a ham auction.
I was pleased to have United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Bill Northey as my special guest for the day. Under Secretary Northey oversees risk management and conservation management programs for USDA. He is no stranger to state fairs as he was Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture for 11 years before being named Under Secretary! It was a pleasure introducing him to Missouri farmers and agriculture leaders and showing him "The Show Me State's Best in Agriculture.” I also appreciated the opportunity to visit with him about our efforts to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (both of which the USDA announced it will soon move out of Washington) to Kansas City. I shared with Under Secretary Northey how Kansas City provides the best place to move these important agencies due to its proximity to the farmer and six land grant universities whose graduates would be a perfect fit for the agencies’ high-paying, advanced jobs, and how so many supporting agencies and agriculture headquarters make their home here, in the center of the United States.
USDA Under Secretary Northey and me at the State Fair in Sedalia.
It was an honor to speak alongside Governor Mike Parson, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, and Congressman Jason Smith at the Missouri Farm Bureau press conference about infrastructure. I highlighted my work to expand rural broadband in the Farm Bill and how important it is for rural communities.
Due to Senator Blunt being in session in Washington, he asked me to moderate his agriculture panel with (L-R) Under Secretary Northey, MO Attorney General Josh Hawley, U.S. Rep. Sam Smith, and MO Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, where we discussed the Farm Bill, the need for broadband in rural areas, and the status of the Missouri drought.
The rest of the day at the State Fair was a delight, as I relived memories from my days as a child, tasting special treats like candied bacon and ribs at the MO Pork Building, ice cream at the MO Dairy Building, and fresh lemonade outside the Agriculture Building. It was a good day!
I got to enjoy some delicious ice cream at the Gerken Dairy Center at the Missouri State Fair - yum!
Missouri Department of Agriculture Business Development Director David Althoff showed me the Agriculture Building.
Hitting the Road for Agriculture – Missouri’s Leading Industry
This week I held my annual Farm Tour. Agriculture is Missouri’s leading industry. I am one of the few farmers serving in Congress, and I love coming home to visit our agricultural operations and meet the men and women behind them.This year’s stops included Nevada High School with the MO Beef Industry Council, the Missouri Northern Pecan Growers in Nevada, a lunch meeting with members of the Missouri Farm Bureau in Stockton, DairiConcepts (an El Dorado Springs-based industry leader in organic production of cheese and dairy products), Red Tail Ranch (a seller of locally raised meats in Archie), and Dragonfly Dreams Flower Farm in Lamar. It was great seeing the latest in Missouri agriculture and visiting with those who produce our food.
I had the chance to recognize Nevada High School for instituting the MO Beef for MO Kids program.
At Nevada High School, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association along with the Vernon County Cattleman, the MO Beef Industry Council, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and the Nevada School District announced that Nevada Public Schools was going to be the site of the MO Beef for MO Kids initiative. This innovative program enables local children to receive more high-quality protein in their school lunches thanks to the generosity of local cattlemen who donate their beef to the school. Students learn in the classroom about where their food comes from through a curriculum taught that the MO Department of Agriculture designed.
At the event I attended, which highlighted the extra beef that would be part of the school lunch menus, I was able to share about the school lunch reforms I recently introduced. My bill, the Local School Lunch Act, protects our school lunch programs by allowing nutritional decisions to be made at the local level so parents, teachers, and administrators can have input on what is best for our children. Local parents and school officials know what is best to serve our kids; not bureaucrats in Washington! I will keep you informed as this bill makes its way through the legislative process.
Kalena and Billy Bruce and the Missouri Farm Bureau hosted a stop on my Farm Tour where I had the chance to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill with my constituents. During this visit, I also heard from Chris Chinn of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Missouri Department of Natural Resources Ag Liaison Kurt Boeckmann about resources available to help farmers dealing with Missouri's drought. The FFA students at the stop were so much fun to talk to, too. These kids are our future! I know that Missouri agriculture is in good hands.
I had a great tour of Missouri Northern Pecan Growers in Nevada, MO! They are the nation’s largest organic grower of native pecans. It's great to know these yummy pecans shipped all over the world are grown right here in Missouri's 4th District.
It was fascinating to tour DairiConcepts in El Dorado Springs on my Farm Tour. This facility produces cheese and dairy powders that are used on fan favorite foods such as Doritos!
What a beautiful array of plants at Dragonfly Dreams Flower Farm in Lamar. I love the diversity of agricultural products right here in Missouri!
Much of the discussion on my tour focused on Missouri’s drought and the 2018 Farm Bill. I have been coordinating with Governor Mike Parson, the USDA, and other officials to obtain maximum assistance for our farmers in Missouri during this difficult drought. Many of our counties have received a disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the USDA has been releasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for emergency haying and grazing. I have advocated for quicker release of these lands to help free up more feed for cattle.
It was fitting to close out my 2018 Farm Tour by riding on the combine with my husband while he picked some of our corn. It’s fun to watch the golden kernels go into hopper and grain cart!
Photos of the Week
Earlier this month, I had the chance to visit with Morgan County officials to see firsthand the regulatory issues they are facing.
I enjoyed a tour of the Ivy Bend Food Pantry in southern Morgan County, where I heard about all the wonderful services they’re providing to the community.
Orvis-Gokey Manufacturing in Tipton hand makes quality shoes that are sold all over the world. These craftsmen do an amazing job turning leather into custom-fit shoes that last for years. It’s wonderful to have such high quality goods produced right here Missouri’s Fourth District.
Koechner Manufacturing in Tipton is a family-owned business that has been providing jobs and quality products for decades. I enjoyed seeing how their turkey coops are made.
In California, I had a great opportunity to speak to chamber members about tax reform, health care and the Farm Bill.
I also had the chance to stop by Advanced Chimney in Jamestown and visit with Omie Johnson and Dawn Cassil (pictured second and third from the left, respectively). They sell beautiful home furnaces and provide chimney cleaning services in the mid-Missouri area. It was great to see State Rep. Sara Walsh there, too (pictured first from left). Thanks for meeting with me and showing me your beautiful showroom!
On Thursday, I enjoyed attending Osage Valley Electric Coop’s 80th Annual Meeting. We had some great entertainment by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, and President Ron Steuck and GM Jarrod Campbell led a great meeting. I am so proud to be a lifetime member of this coop!
How Tax Reform is Working for You
A recent Reuters article announced that spending is likely to remain strong this year because of lower taxes that have increased take-home pay. Lucia Mutikani writes: “With savings at lofty levels and lower taxes increasing take home pay for some workers, spending is likely to remain strong this year. Accelerating home prices, which are boosting wealth for some households, should also underpin consumption.”
Weekly Dose of Good News
Finally, we have some good news for middle-class American families that have been struggling with health care costs. The federal government recently issued a rule allowing U.S. consumers to buy short-term insurance plans that last less than one year and can be renewed for up to three years. These consumers will be able to shop for plans better suited to their families’ needs and can avoid paying for benefits they don’t want and cannot afford – and they’ll have access to a broader array of providers. The introduction of these short-term policies is expected to result in savings of 50-80% percent off the cost of comprehensive health insurance. While these plans are not for everyone, they are now a viable option for millions of American who are priced out of the current market. This is great news!