Missouri lawmakers plan to make a new push next session to pass an agricultural package that could help dairy, cattle and crop farmers — this time, without a contentious deer-ranching provision that doomed the measure.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said the bill will be on a fast-track to passage without the captive-deer measure when legislators convene in January.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed this year's version of the bill, citing concerns about shifting the authority to regulate deer farms and hunting preserves from the Department of Conservation to the Department of Agriculture. The Republican-led Legislature fell one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority in an attempt to override the veto.
But supporters are hopeful it has better chances without that contested provision.
Sen. Brian Munzlinger — a farmer and Republican from Williamstown — said he plans to draft a new bill with almost identical wording, including state-funded insurance subsidies for dairy farmers.
The measure would require the state to offer to pay 70 percent of dairy producers' federal insurance premium payments. The program reimburses farmers if the cost of feed for cows rises too high and starts cutting into their profits.
Larry Purdom, chairman of the Missouri Dairy Association, said it would make expensive insurance more accessible to farmers and could help some continue operating in rough years.
"I think we could be a leader in the industry with that legislation," he said.
The bill also would require the University of Missouri to conduct annual research on the sales tax revenue generated from dairy products and to create a plan for boosting the Missouri dairy industry.
Students in agricultural degree programs who pledge to work in the industry would have access to 80 scholarships worth $5,000 if the legislation passes.
Cattle farmers would get benefits as well.
The measure would protect them from lawsuits if people are injured by their herds. Weight restrictions on trucks carrying cattle also would be lifted.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri, which opposed the effort to shift regulatory authority over deer farms, said it would support a new version of the agriculture legislation lacking the deer provision.
"We were put in a hard spot fighting against a number of agricultural bills we thought were good and should have passed on their own," federation Executive Director Brandon Butler said.