U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-District 4) was the guest speaker for this year’s Audrain County Farm Bureau annual Legislative Banquet held last Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mexico.
She told those in attendance that she wasn’t sure she would make the banquet since there was a government shutdown just one day earlier and she was still in Washington, D.C.
“It is great to be here, back with farm folk with common sense, I love it,” she said. “After being in Washington for a while it’s like, I’ve got to get home.”
Rep. Hartzler talked about her days growing up on a farm about an hour south of Kansas City, Mo. Her family had a hog farm, corn, wheat, soybeans, and milo.
She also briefly discussed her political career and family life.
Rep. Hartzler then gave a brief overview of the recent government shutdown.
During her time at the podium, she recognized those who have served in the military and families who are connected to the military.
Amongst the other things she discussed, was her belief in a need for an immigration reform bill. She also discussed the drug problem plaguing the country.
A major agricultural item she discussed was the Farm Bill.
In 2011, she noted that she found out how many people did not like the Farm Bill.
She said the two main commodities still having issues are the dairy farm-ers and the cotton farmers.
It was noted the protections didn’t really work with the Farm Bill and those farmers were hurting.
“My number one priority in the Farm Bill is preserve crop insurance,” she said. “I think it’s vital we continue to provide that risk management tool.”
In regards to tax reform, Rep. Hartzler talked about estate tax. It’s not gone but the reform allows a doubling of money that can be passed on to the next generation.
In regards to Section 179, it gets expanded from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
Rep. Hartzler also talked about how companies are coming back to the U.S. and creating jobs due to the tax reform.
She said she might get to see a draft of the Farm Bill on Monday.
Rep. Hartzler also took questions from those in attendance.
Rep. Jay Houghton (R-District 43) made a few remarks.
He noted that this was his last year and there is a need to find someone to replace him.
Rep. Houghton said he’s taking a ride out approach in regards to the controversy regarding Gov. Eric Greitens.
“Do I agree with what the governor did, I do not,” Rep. Houghton noted. “…However, what he did was not illegal.”
In regards to policy, he discussed industrial hemp.
“Hemp is not marijuana, flat out not marijuana,” he said. “Two completely different plants.”
He noted that if they cross pollenate, both plants get ruined.
Rep. Houghton also discussed about getting engaged in October.
He noted that he makes $35,900 annually as a question was asked if state officials were going to give themselves a pay raise. Rep. Houghton said there hasn’t been one in the eight years he’s been in office.
Bryan Nichols spoke on behalf of U.S. Congressman Sam Graves.
He talked about the nutrient criteria and how the EPA is going to regulate water quality issues.
Justin Klocke, the new field representative for U.S. Claire McCaskill, also spoke during the event.
He noted an emphasis on infrastructure and bipartisan comprises that can be coming on the issue.
Audrain County Western District Commissioner Tracy Graham talked about a coalition formed to generate interests for kids in school to see what the work force is today.
A program called Megatronics was discussed.
There was also discussion that kids can earn applied science honors.
He also mentioned the recent announcement for Spartan’s expansion.
Commissioner Graham also noted a goal of visiting with businesses to see how the county can help them.
Audrain County Eastern District Commissioner Alan Winders talked briefly on the Audrain County Jail Project.
“Right now is on time and on budget,” he said.
Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs noted that Audrain County Clerk Shelley Harvey is retiring after 35 years.
He noted that she’s been the Audrain County clerk for 22 years.
Hobbs noted that Lisa Smith is running for the position and she’s been working in her position for 15 years.
Hobbs talked about the small structure tax.
“It’s our goal that in Audrain County, no farmer, no business person, no UPS truck, should be stopped from coming to your farm or business because they cannot cross a bridge or a structure in our county,” Hobbs said.
Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller gave an overview of the jail project and he was thankful for his staff.
In 2017, an increase of more than 2,000 calls of service. He went over a rates report.
There were 1,471 new bookings that were not contracted prisoners.
The average number of inmates is 70.
Recorder of Deeds Janis Deimeke said there are some software changes coming to provide more accuracy. She also said there is still a property fraud alert, which is free of charge to sign up for.
Audrain County Treasurer Patty Meyers said her office has been busy with month end. She said there was more than $17 million paid to entities and schools received around $14 million.
She also discussed rural cemeteries.
Meyers said she’s hoping to spark interest for donations with these cemeteries this year.
Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger said there were 1,068 criminal cases filed, up 150 from the year before.
He noted the busy case load upcoming for his office.
Shellabarger also noted the treatment court and its success.
Judge Wes Dalton was thankful for being invited. He talked about his small farm. He also noted that the county has great elected officials.
Audrain County Assessor noted that there were about 4,000 assessment sheets of around 11,000 sent already back. Hobbs said Collector Kate Becker and her family couldn’t make the banquet due to the flu.
Audrain County Farm Bureau President Barb Wilson introduced each of the speakers.