Lawmakers on Thursday sent a bill aimed at spurring growth in Missouri's dairy industry to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's desk, one of the first bills to make it that far this session.
Touted by sponsor Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, as the Dairy Revitalization Act, the measure earned a second nickname Thursday: "Obamacow." The name stems from a provision of the bill that would subsidize federal dairy insurance for up to 70 percent of farmers' premium payments.
Before voting in favor of the bill, Republican Sen. Ryan Silvey of Kansas City questioned helping provide dairy insurance while the majority party has resisted growing a federal health care program for low-income adults. Silvey is one of the few GOP members who this session has joined Democrats in calling to expand eligibility for Medicaid.
Silvey called the bill "Obamacow," drawing a parallel with the term "Obamacare." That term is used by some Republicans to describe President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, under which states can receive enhanced federal funding if they raise eligibility for adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — or $33,465 for a family of four.
Along with the federal dairy insurance, the bill would require the University of Missouri to research and report on how to improve the field. The legislation also would create a $5,000 scholarship for 80 agriculture students who pledge to work in the dairy industry and meet certain eligibility requirements, if lawmakers set aside money for that scholarship.
Passed 110-49 in the House and 31-2 in the Senate, Reiboldt's bill now needs approval from the governor to become law.
Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a Williamstown Republican and chairman of the Senate's agriculture committee, said the measure is needed to keep the state competitive in the dairy field.
"Missouri used to be I believe No. 2 in dairy back in the '70s, second to Wisconsin," Munzlinger said. "Right now I don't even know where we are on the list."