Farmers from Newton and McDonald counties attended the annual Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Appreciation Banquet, held Tuesday at the Neosho High School cafeteria.

Aside from being treated to dinner and visiting with area vendors, those in attendance heard from Rep. Bill Reiboldt and Seventh District Congressman Bill Long.

Reiboldt talked about Missouri’s Right to Farm measure.

“It is a legislative referendum that passed the House and the Senate, it will be on the 2014 ballot, the Nov. 4 general election ballot,” he said. “Every Missourian will have the opportunity to vote on it. It will be Constitutional Amendment No. 1 and it guarantees farmers and ranchers to their constitutional right to farm, to raise livestock, like we have always done. We feel like that is necessary because of outside forces that would like to over-regulate and, perhaps at some point and time, even change what we do agriculturally. This would affect food, it would affect the marketplace, the cost of food, but it would disrupt Missouri’s No. 1 industry: agriculture.”

Proponents of the Right to Farm proposal say the measure would ensure consumer choice by protecting the food chain, protect Missouri’s farm families from out-of-state animal-rights extremists, and ensure that farmers following the law will continue to have the right to farm and ranch.

In addition to Missouri, only one other state has passed this.

“North Dakota is the only other state that has passed something similar, Missouri would be the second state to pass,” said Reiboldt. “Other states are very interested in doing that.”

Long, the night’s keynote speaker, told the audience about federal farm legislation.

“The main thing … is that we are going to get a farm bill done, but unfortunately like a lot of things in Washington, it will probably get done at 59 minutes past the 11th hour,” Long said. “We have now gone to conference last Wednesday, we started a conference with the Senate which is a good move. The Senate had a $4 billion cut over a 10-year period.”

Long said the House wants $40 billion cut during that same time frame.
“It is very important that we do this before December when that milk hits because we don’t want people to pay $7 or $8 a gallon of milk in the grocery store,” said Long. “We cannot go back to the 1949 farm bill.”

Long said the Federal Farm Bill is important because agriculture is vital to his district, the state and the nation.

“Like I always say, if you take agriculture and manufacturing out of our district you don’t have much left,” he said. “So it is vitally important.”