Tax Breaks For Farmers Near Passage In Missouri Legislature

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A $40 million tax credit package for Missouri farmers and other agricultural businesses neared passage Monday, when a committee voted to send the bill to the full state Senate.

The bill is expected to come up for a final Senate vote Tuesday.

The measure extends several agricultural tax credits that expired and creates some new tax credits, including breaks for gas stations that sell biodiesel and fuel with a higher percentage of ethanol.

The legislation also would expand government loan programs for farmers in the state.

The Republican-led Missouri Legislature passed a bill with similar provisions during the regular legislative session this year, which ended in May.

But GOP Gov. Mike Parson vetoed the measure, citing a two-year sunset attached to the tax credits that he said was too short. He also said the bill unconstitutionally included a provision on recycled asphalt shingles, violating a rule against including multiple topics in the same legislation.

Parson called a special session — primarily focused on cutting individual income taxes in the state — and tasked lawmakers with extending the agricultural tax breaks for at least six years. Lawmakers last week sent Parson a bill to cut individual income taxes from 5.3% to 4.95% beginning next year.

“I really believe these tax credits will help small farmers compete on a bigger scale and help those family farmers stay in business,” said Republican Rep. Brad Pollitt, who owns a cattle ranch and sponsored the agriculture tax breaks.

House Democrats unsuccessfully had tried to amend the bill to exclude state lawmakers getting any tax breaks in the measure.

Pollitt told Senate Appropriations Committee members on Monday that he's not sure which lawmakers would qualify for tax breaks under his bill.

Although there are no prohibitions on state lawmakers benefitting from the tax breaks, Pollitt said the measure is aimed at helping small farmers, not lawmakers.

“I probably qualify,” Pollitt said. “I have no interest in this. This is not something that I need.”

A number of Missouri lawmakers work as farmers or ranchers, and Parson is a cattle rancher. Missouri's Legislature is not in session year round, meaning most members work other jobs once the regular session ends in mid-May.