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CONGRESSMAN JASON SMITH LEGISLATIVE COLUMN

Fighting spirit of Missouri farmers, ranchers

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Farmers in southern Missouri produce some of the highest quality agriculture products found anywhere in the world, from soybeans grown in the Bootheel to cattle raised in the rolling foothills.

As a fourth-generation owner of a family farm right here in southern Missouri, I know how hard farmers and ranchers work to produce the feed, fuel, and fiber that’s sold across the world. But I also know that there are many challenges that come with owning and operating a farm.

Every year, I visit ranches, ag businesses, and farms across southern Missouri as part of my Ag Summit. The annual tradition is an opportunity to not only showcase southern Missouri agriculture, but also to hear people’s thoughts, concerns, and feedback on all aspects of government – and particularly the challenges any current or potential federal regulations are presenting to their businesses.

This year I kicked off my Ag Summit with an unforgettable stop at Hardy’s Duck Farm in Dudley. The farm is run by 9-year old Kruz Hardy, who raises and sells all kinds of ducks, chickens, and geese. While taking me on a tour of her operation, Kruz explained in great detail the various quirks and unique habits of her birds, as well as the ups and downs that come with running a farm, like trying to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of animal feed. After President Joe Biden’s economic crisis drove the cost of bird feed so high that it was no longer affordable, her family started growing their own to help offset the higher costs and keep the farm running. Kruz’s ability to adapt and overcome a major challenge of running a farm was incredibly inspiring and a great example of the fighting spirit of Missouri farmers and ranchers.

During my visit at AgXplore, a plant and soil enhancement producer in Parma, employees explained that although the company has faced higher costs, they make it a priority to not pass the added expenses on to farmers. I told them that, as Republican Leader of the House Budget Committee, my single biggest mission right now is to rein in the reckless Washington spending that’s fueling inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

Whether I was in Kennett, Hayti, Sikeston, or Oak Ridge, it was clear that the biggest challenge facing Missouri ag is the sky-high cost of everything from feed and fertilizer to diesel fuel and farming equipment. In fact, a gallon of diesel hit a record high of $5.71 this year, and the cost of certain fertilizers has increased by 400% compared to 2020.

So what are leaders in Washington doing to get this economic crisis under control? On Tuesday, Washington Democrats held a huge celebration at the White House to tout their Inflation Act, a $745 billion spending bill that transfers hundreds of billions from working-class farmers to wealthy environmentalists and will only worsen the worst cost-of-living crisis in 40 years. New economic inflation data released just hours before their celebration confirmed yet again that this crisis is here to stay.

Rural America and the working class have been an easy target under one-party Democrat rule of Congress and the White House. As the son of working-class parents, I’ll never forget how hard my mom and dad had to work to put food on our table. The valuable lessons I learned growing up continue to influence everything I do today. I wake up and fight for the working class in Congress. When I am forced to stay in Washington, I sleep on the couch in my office at night. And when the week ends, I take the first flight I can get to go back home to Missouri.

In Washington, I’ll continue doing everything I can to get our country back on track, and ensure that future generations like the 9-year old who runs her own duck farm in Dudley live in an America where, through hard work and determination, the American Dream can still be achieved.

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