Missouri is deciding whether to create a fund to help the state’s agriculture industry weather natural disasters, such as drought and flooding.
Governor Mike Parson’s Chief of Staff, Aaron Willard, tells the Missouri House Budget Committee that the governor’s state budget proposal includes a 3-point-five million dollar request to create the fund.
“For the last several years, we’ve had quite a few instances of drought, then a flooding, and of drought again. And so, this is an opportunity that usually in those cases, we come back to you all, and we ask for funding to try to address some of these issues that have popped up. And this is just an opportunity, from our perspective to say, ‘Look, we can take some of this funding, and we could actually maybe do a little bit of planning ahead,’” says Willard.
Manchester Democratic Representative Deb Lavender supports the plan, saying weather issues are going to be a problem for a while.
“So, I appreciate that opportunity to help with farmers and I do think the weather issues are going to continue to plague us for a while. I used to think we had plenty of water in Missouri. I’m not sure we do anymore,” says Lavender.
House Budget Committee Vice Chairman Dirk Deaton of Noel suggest it might well be needed, but lawmakers have to weigh the arguments for its creation carefully.
“I thought, well, if it’s just maybe for planning or, you know, would it be something necessarily needed, you know, every year and it’s kind of hard to say because it’s, you know, somewhat contingent upon if there’s a flood or a drought what it sounds like. But honestly, it’s Missouri. Right? Do we ever not have a flood or a drought somewhere,” asks Deaton.
The Parson administration argues creation of the fund would streamline aid requests and relieve state department heads from coming to the legislature to ask for disaster funding.
Aaron Willard, Parson’s Chief of Staff, tells the Missouri House Budget Committee the fund would streamline the process, allowing state departments to tap the fund, rather than go to the legislature after each natural disaster, seeking emergency funding.
“We have not only the droughts and the floods, but the impact just on the availability of water is a really critically important issue. If you’re a row crop farmer, a lot of times you have the option for insurance. If you are a livestock farmer, you do not. This is also an opportunity to maybe plan ahead and do some things around ponds or around wells,” he says.
Missouri, along with the entire Midwest, has been dealing with drought the last couple of years. Earlier, the state got hit with flooding.
Story contributed by Missourinet