HCS SS SCS SB 925 -- AGRICULTURAL ADVOCATE'S OFFICE; FARMLAND PROTECTION ACT; MULTICULTURAL PROGRAM

SPONSOR: Caskey (Williams, 159)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Agri-Business by a vote of 19 to 0.

AGRICULTURAL ADVOCATE'S OFFICE

This substitute creates the Missouri Agricultural Advocate's Office, within the Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the office is to assist Missouri's family farmers and the agriculture industry in their efforts to protect, sustain, expand, and promote Missouri's agricultural economy and way of life, with priority given to family farms.

It will be the duty of the office to:

(1) Review and challenge, when appropriate, federal and state regulatory agencies' rules, regulations, and policies which may affect Missouri agriculture;

(2) Inform the public about state and federal legislation, and act as an advocate and liaison in the state and federal legislative process for Missouri agriculture;

(3) Review and challenge, when appropriate, ordinances, orders, and policies of political subdivisions which may have an effect on Missouri agriculture;

(4) Act as a liaison and information source in coordination with the Department of Agriculture for Missouri agriculture among all levels of government and the general public;

(5) Enter and defend original actions at the federal level and act as an interpleader to protect Missouri's agricultural interests; and

(6) Assist in any other legitimate purpose deemed necessary by the commission or the Department of Agriculture to protect, sustain, promote, and expand Missouri's family farms and economy.

There is to be an executive director of the Missouri Agriculture Advocate's Office with a staff, within appropriation, to carry out the mission of the office.

The Missouri Agriculture Advocate's Advisory Commission is established. The composition of the commission's office, terms, officers, appointment, and other procedures are specified.

FARMLAND PROTECTION ACT

The substitute also enacts the Farmland Protection Act. The purpose of the act is to protect agricultural, horticultural, and forestry land; promote continued economic viability; promote quality of life; and protect farmlands from negative impacts.

The act applies to tracts of real property comprised of 10 or more contiguous acres, used as agricultural or single family residential property or both, and not located in a platted subdivision.

The act (1) requires the state or any political subdivision to hold sewer and water assessments in abeyance, until improvements on property covered by the act are connected to the sewer or water system; and (2) prohibits the taking by eminent domain of property subject to the act unless, in addition to approval by the county commission, a public hearing is held on the proposed taking.

MULTICULTURAL PROGRAM

The substitute establishes a Missouri Multicultural Center and Program within the office of Lieutenant Governor. The program will serve as a resource for immigrants, state agencies, businesses, advocacy groups, and political subdivisions in the state. The program must develop outreach material in various formats and informational sources that will assist immigrants. The information must be made available in an electronic format.

A Multicultural Citizens' Advisory Committee is established within the office of Lieutenant Governor which must develop and implement the program. The committee will consist of 25 members. The appointment, terms, and compensation of the committee are outlined in the substitute. The Lieutenant Governor is authorized to employ an executive director for the committee.

The portions of the substitute concerning the Agricultural Advocate's Office and the Farmland Protection Act have a partial effective date of January 1, 2001.

The portion of the substitute concerning the multicultural program has an emergency clause.

FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Cost to General Revenue Fund of $277,789 in FY 2001, $419,427 in FY 2002, and $432,393 in FY 2003. Totals do not include unknown revenue from the grants, gifts, contributions, and dues in reference to the Missouri Agricultural Advocates Office.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the substitute would improve, assist, and promote Missouri agriculture and provide advocacy for all matters concerning agriculture.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Caskey; Missouri Farm Bureau; and Poultry Federation of Missouri.

OPPONENTS: There was no opposition voiced to the committee.

Roland Tackett, Legislative Analyst