Ann Kelley's Capitol Connection

October 05, 2023

What’s Going on in the Capitol

Missouri State Fair Records Nearly 350,000 Attendees

The Missouri State Fair, held from August 10 to August 20, 2023, welcomed nearly 350,000 visitors this year. This marks an approximate two-and-a-half percent increase from the previous year's attendance.

Governor Mike Parson, who attended the fair with the First Lady, emphasized the importance of the fair as a longstanding tradition for Missouri families. The fair theme, "Where Traditions Grow," celebrated the rich traditions associated with the event. Various events and exhibits showcased the traditions that have endeared the fair to Missourians.

The fair featured agricultural showcases, family-friendly attractions, shows, and a wide array of food and drink options, shopping opportunities, and camping. Concerts were a highlight, with the Lainey Wilson show selling out and the Nelly concert nearly doing so.

The carnival midway also proved popular, recording its second-highest year for revenue, particularly on the first Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday.

The Missouri State Fair is not only an opportunity to celebrate Missouri's agriculture but also serves as an annual tradition for FFA and 4-H families. It attracts people from across the state to enjoy exhibits, rides, and food.

The 2024 Missouri State Fair is scheduled for August 8-18 in Sedalia.

Farming Profits Increased in 2022, Expected to Decrease in 2023

Farmers in the United States experienced a significant 30% increase in net farm profits from 2021 to 2022, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This increase coincided with a more than 10% rise in food prices nationwide. However, the USDA predicts that farm incomes will decrease by approximately 20% in 2023, though they will remain above pre-pandemic averages.

It is essential to recognize that farm incomes can vary widely based on factors such as commodities and local weather conditions. Last year's record-high incomes were largely driven by high prices and strong yields for major cash crops like corn and soybeans.

The majority of the income growth in the agricultural sector is concentrated among the largest farms, with less than 8% of the country's farms bringing in more than $500,000 in income in 2022. These farms accounted for 89% of the record-breaking farm profits. Overall, farmers received $15 billion in direct government payments, primarily benefiting the largest farms.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized the importance of supporting smaller farms and expressed the Biden administration's commitment to policies that would help create new revenue streams for farms. These initiatives include paying farmers for adopting "climate-smart" farming techniques, opening up carbon markets, and finding ways to deliver fresh produce directly to grocery stores and schools. Vilsack also highlighted the need to protect and expand crop insurance and lower premiums as priorities for commodity groups ahead of the Farm Bill.

While the projected drop in farm income from 2022 to 2023 is seen as part of the agricultural sector's inherent volatility, interest groups are already using it to influence the debate around the next Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September.

I-70 Expansion Project to Commence Next Year

Missouri lawmakers have approved funds for a $2.8 billion project aimed at rebuilding 200 miles of interstate highway, expanding it to six lanes between St. Louis and Kansas City. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) estimates that this extensive project will take approximately five to seven years to complete.

MoDOT officials recently informed state lawmakers that construction will commence on a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 70, running from U.S. 63 in Columbia to Kingdom City, starting "this time next year." The project will be divided into six distinct segments, with the initial phase covering the Columbia to Kingdom City stretch.

A tentative project schedule outlines that the final project will involve a highway segment from Marshall to Columbia. Contracts for each of these six projects will be awarded separately, with individual project lengths ranging from 20 to 50 miles and contract values expected to range from $300 million to $600 million.

The bidding process for the first project is currently underway, and MoDOT plans to select a shortlist of design-build teams in the next few weeks. The final contract award for this initial project is anticipated to be announced during the February meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

Subsequent project contracts will follow in succession, allowing for better cost monitoring throughout the project's execution. The I-70 expansion project aims to enhance transportation infrastructure and connectivity in Missouri.

Taking Care of YOU

Resolutions: My office offers Courtesy Resolutions for birthdays, deceased loved ones, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, Glory Awards, Marriage, Retirement, Sports, Wedding Anniversary’s, and Veterans. To request one, please call my office at (573) 751-2165.

Flags: Are you in need of a new flag? I offer new Missouri State and United States flags upon request. If you need a flag for a special circumstance, we can even fly it over the capitol for you. These flags are available for any non-profit organizations and groups.

Scheduling a Capitol Trip: If your school is traveling to Jefferson City, contact my capitol office to set up tours times for the Capitol, Supreme Court, and Missouri State Penitentiary. These tours fill up fast in a first come first serve basis. Please give us a months’ notice in order to ensure you get tours of everything.

I am always in your service,

State Representative

Ann Kelley

Proudly Serving District 127