Declining dairy industry asks for state help
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Declining dairy industry asks for state help

Date: April 23, 2009
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: A drop in national milk prices is driving more Missouri dairy farmers out of an already declining industry. They have asked the state for tax credits to keep farms from closing. Sarah Wire has more from the Capitol. RunTime:2:19
OutCue: SOC

Green County dairyman Charles Buckner has been milking cows since 1952.

He still has the receipt from the first load of milk taken from his cows. But, he says the current milk price means his paycheck only covers two-thirds of his operating costs.


Actuality:  BUCK2.WAV
Run Time: 00:24
Description: "And I have to be worried, you know? I've got family, a son and a daughter, who farm with us and I tell you what it's the roughest I've ever seen anything like. I'm sure I've met nobody here who's been milking longer than I have and I've been in it a long time and I sure have paid for that"

Dairy farmers have come to the state Legislature to support a bill that would give them up to a twenty five hundred dollar tax credit. It would only kick in when national milk prices fall below the U.S. Ag Department's yearly projection.

Dairy farmers across the country say high feed prices and troubles with international milk sales have prompted more dairymen to quit.

Missouri Dairy Association Director Dave Drennan says the number of dairy farms in the state is down to two thousand from twenty thousand in 1975. He estimates that 50,000 people currently work in dairies but he says they aren't the only Missourians who will be affected if the industry doesn't get help from the state.

Actuality:  DREN1.WAV
Run Time: 00:10
Description: "There's quite a few other folks here to, Senator, who depend on the dairy farmers for a job, whether it be public health inspector, hauler, local feed store."

Drennan says an additional 50,000 people work in jobs connected to dairy.

The bill has faced some opposition from lawmakers who say it is not fair to create a tax credit when the state is struggling financially.

Jackson County Republican Sen. Matt Bartle says he is against tax credits in general, not just the proposed dairy credit.

Actuality:  BART1.WAV
Run Time: 00:15
Description: "Tax credits are bankrupting our state and this is a horrible time to be adding more tax credits to the load we already have, we're approaching $700 million of tax credits."

The bill's sponsor is a former dairy man. Marshfield Republican Sen. Dan Clemens acknowledges the opposition. He says the bill may not pass this session and he is worried about what impact that will have have on family-owned Missouri dairies.

From the state Capitol, I'm Sarah Wire.

Intro: State dairymen are asking lawmakers for a tax credit to keep the declining industry alive, but some lawmakers question if this is the right time to be adding to state debt. Sarah Wire has more from the state Capitol.  RunTime:0:55
OutCue: SOC

Dairy farmers across the state are asking lawmakers to approve a tax credit which the farmers say could keep them in business.

Nearly 99 percent of Missouri's dairy farms have closed since 1975. The state now imports most of it's dairy from neighboring states.

Several dairy farmers say high feed prices and problems with the international dairy market are shutting them down 

The bill's sponsor is a former dairy man from rural south western Missourian. Sen. Dan Clemens says most people would not even qualify for the full twenty-five hundred dollar tax credit.


Actuality:  CLEM1.WAV
Run Time: 00:08
Description: "Such a small tax credit that we'd be using in this bill would keep the dairy industry around in Missouri."

Neighboring lawmaker Jackson County Republican Sen. Matt Bartle says tax credits are what got the state into financial difficulty and it is not the right time to add to Missouri's debt through more tax credits.

From Jefferson City, I'm Sarah Wire.


Intro: Missouri dairymen say rural infrastructure is disappearing as dairy farms close their doors. They've asked state lawmakers for a tax credit to help weather the economic storm. Sarah Wire has more from the Capitol. RunTime:1:00
OutCue: SOC

Missouri dairy farmers say their industry has been deeply affected by high feed prices and a weak international dairy market and they need the state government's help.

The Senate budget committee is hearing a bill to give dairy farmers up to a twenty-five hundred dollar tax credit if national milk prices fall below the U.S. Ag Department's yearly projection.

Missouri Dairy Association Director David Drennan said around 100,000 Missourians work in dairies or in industries connected to them. 

Dairy man Stacey McCallister said if the state doesn't approve the tax credit, the loss of the dairies will have a big impact on rural communities.

Actuality:  MAC1.WAV
Run Time: 00:14
Description: "This bill's about jobs for the state, it's about rural infrastructure. If we don't get this bill passed we're in some very serious trouble." 

Jackson County Republican Sen. Matt Bartle says he doesn't support the proposal because tax credits only add to state debt.

From the Capitol, I'm Sarah Wire.