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Representative Emerson Speaks On Farm Bill And Grotto Scuplin

As Election day grows near, Missouri voters express concern about the lack of a federal Farm Bill. U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson still considers the bill a high priority.

In September, Congress allowed the 2008 Farm Bill to expire without proposing a new bill.

For farmers still recovering from the summer’s drought, this leaves a high level of uncertainty about next year’s crops.

Representative Emerson says agriculture is the “main driver” of Missouri’s economy; nine counties in her district produce more than 33% of all agricultural income for the entire state.

Emerson says passing a farm bill is crucial to the future of these farmers.

“Farmers are making decisions right now about what they’re going to plant next year and so they need to know how to make their business decisions,” Emerson said. “And, secondly, within the Farm Bill, will be drought assistant for all of our livestock producers and dairy folks over on the west side of the district.”

Emerson says passing a new Farm Bill will be among the first issues addressed by the House in November. She is confident they will reach a quick solution.

“The United States Senate has passed a Farm Bill, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed, out of the Agriculture Committee, a Farm Bill and we believe now that we have enough votes to pass it in the whole House. We’re hopeful that we’re going to bring that up on the floor sometime when we go back November thirteenth,” Emerson said.

Emerson says they hope to have a new Farm Bill proposed before January.


Emerson also voiced her concern on the consideration of putting Grotto Sculpin on the Endangered Species listing for a Perry County fish.

The fish is a small cave dwelling fish that measures only 2.5 inches in length. It is only found in five caves in Perry County. Due to its limited habitat and low population, this species is being considered for addition to the federal endangered species list.

Residents of Perry County are concerned about what this designation could mean for landowners, a sentiment Emerson shares.

Specifically, Emerson says this could become a major obstacle for farmers.

“If it’s placed on the endangered species list, then, in essence, what happens is that there are new rules and regulations governing all of the land, both private and public, on top of which these fish are found in those grottos underneath,” Emerson said.

Another of Emerson’s concerns is the possible economic backlash an endangered species designation could have on Perry County. Emerson says the combined problems for businesses and farming could eventually slow the local economy to a complete stop.

“For example, you’ve got a company that’s got land there and they want to expand,” Emerson said. “What about if they want to build a new building? Will they be permitted to? Will there be any way that you can grow out? And I don’t know what the answer to that would be at this moment in time.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has eleven months to determine if the Grotto sculpin will be placed on the endangered species list.

Samantha Rinehart was a student reporter for KRCU from 2012-2013.