Drought effects to linger, senator says

By David Knopf/Richmond News

In an interview with the Richmond News, State Senate Agricultural Chairman Brian Munzlinger discussed several issues he sees as priorities in 2013, both for farmers and his committee.

Munzlinger, a Lewis County farmer who represents eight counties in the 18th District, was in Richmond Tuesday with a caravan of Republicans that toured several cities in the West Central part of the state.

With the election just five days away, the newspaper agreed to discuss agricultural issues with Munzlinger, but declined to interview candidates on next Tuesday’s ballot. Munzlinger, who spent eight years in the House before being elected to the Senate, isn’t currently up for reelection.

Munzlinger grows corn and soybeans on just under 1,000 acres in Williamsburg. He’s a hands-on farmer, but relies on the help of his wife and daughter to get the work done while accommodating his Senate schedule.

“It’s too big for one man to do,” he said of his combination of bottomland and hilly ground, “but not enough to support a family.”

That’s especially been true this year, he said, when an historic drought impacted farmers across the state.

“Agriculture is the largest industry in the state,” Munzlinger said. “This year, when we look to the drought, it’s been hard on both the row crop and livestock producers.”

Like many who grow row crops, Munzlinger said he’s been dealing with an insurance adjuster to assess yield losses inflicted by drought and sustained hot weather.

Because 135 acres of Munzlinger’s corn tested high for aflotoxin, a fungus that renders the grain unsuitable as livestock feed. He was told that an adjuster would need to be on site continuously as the acreage was destroyed.

Munzlinger said he contacted the insurance company to complain about the inconvenience, both to himself and other farmers with a similar problem.

The company changed its stance, Munzlinger said, instead allowing producers to cut down the crop and later sign a form that attested to it being destroyed.

“You called my boss,” Munzlinger said the adjuster told him, “and you saved a lot of people in Missouri a lot of work.”

The senator said he understood how busy adjusters are in light of the drought and just wanted to save everyone some time.

But the priority issue is an ongoing one, Munzlinger said – the impact the drought will continue having on the state’s economy.

“The big one I think could be the state of Missouri’s economy,” he said. “Agriculture has pulled the state’s economy along the past few years.”

The onset of rain and cooler weather might’ve helped farmers’ soybean yields, but Munzlinger said it would be a mistake to think the drought is over.


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