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Lobbyist Money Help  

Eco-Friendly Farming Bill Passes Senate Committee

April 05, 2001
By: Ben Paynter
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Environmentalists pushed a series of proposals to protect wildlife and encourage eco-friendly farming practices through the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday.

The bill, approved 6-1, would give Missouri farmers who reforest cropland a tax incentive worth up to $5,000.

"Timber is a reusable product," Rep. Randall Relford, D-Cameron, said. "We need to be good stewards with it."

The state would subsidize reforestation efforts for tracts larger than 20 acres, but worth less than $125 per acre.

"This is a valuable incentive for forest landowners across the state," Cory Ridenhour, director of the Missouri Products Association, told lawmakers during testimony in support of bill.

Relford originally focused on Missouri's "severe" problem with illegal trafficking in deer antlers, but by the time the House gave final approval in February, a variety of unrelated measures had been attached.

The final proposal would provide compensation for damage caused by wild elk imported by the Department of Conservation, allow farmers to kill wild hogs and stiffen penalties for deer poaching.

"Hunters are shooting deer, taking their heads and antlers for resale and leaving their carcasses to rot," said lobbyist Denny Ballard, the self-described "world's foremost authority on deer antlers."

Violators of the proposed anti-poaching statute would face fines of up to $7,500.

No one testified in opposition to the bill, which bears a $1 million price tag. A decision is expected by the full Senate within the next month.

"It's high time we got this through," Relford said.