Over the past month, farmers across southeast and south central Missouri have let me into their day to day lives, opening up their homes – and their barns – sharing the issues they struggle with and talking about what I can do to help.

During last year’s focus on farms, the biggest concern I heard about was government overreach and regulations. Fortunately, President Trump and I have begun the work to remove many of those burdensome regulations. We’ve made a difference, but there’s always more to be done. This year, the new concerns I heard were about our complicated tax code, skyrocketing healthcare costs for families and how hard it is to find labor when competing against robust government welfare programs.

Agriculture is one of the top drivers for Missouri’s economy, and like every other business, young family or budding entrepreneur, our farmers need relief from this country’s complicated and burdensome tax code. Not only are many of these folks farmers, but they run agribusinesses as well. Whether their farm hosts a fall festival or runs a farmer’s market, they are overwhelmed each year by the work they have to do just to figure out how much money they owe the federal government. It’s not right. The government should be taking the least amount of money from people as possible.

In Ozark and Pemiscot County, farmers and small agribusiness owners shared with me that when looking for talented labor, they simply cannot compete with robust, liberal federal welfare programs. Multiple times, I heard folks sitting on the employment sidelines tell me that they can make just as much money or, in some cases, more money on government programs than they can by doing an honest day’s work. There is a tremendous amount of pride in knowing you worked hard for what you earned. That’s how I grew up. I think it’s important to pass that work ethic along and not let folks just get something for nothing. That’s why I support work requirements for welfare recipients so we can reduce poverty and government dependency while increasing self-sufficiency.

I heard from folks in Crawford and Shannon County who are concerned about healthcare. Farmers in southeast and south central Missouri are plenty busy with taking care of their land, raising their families and running their agribusinesses, and they shouldn’t have to spend their valuable time worrying about how much health insurance is going to cost. That is why I'm fighting for Missourians to see the cost of their care up front, control the price of procedures and drive healthcare expenses down. I also helped author and pass a bill that will allow farmers and small businesses to ban together with other farmers in southeast and south central Missouri to buy health insurance and lower their costs.

Getting out of Washington and back to Missouri for longer than just a weekend was a welcome change from the multiple flights back and forth and having to sleep in my office. It was so good to be home. We drove more than 2,500 miles – about the same distance as driving from my home town of Salem to New York City and back – stopping in every county across southeast and south central Missouri to meet with our hardworking farmers. The best part about the time I got to spend with folks was hearing what I need to do to make a difference in your life. The couch in my office isn’t nearly as comfortable as my bed at home, but I’m proud to be back here, fighting for what Missourians need and fighting to keep our rural way of life out of the government’s hands.

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