Parson addresses tariffs, agriculture funding before meeting ag leaders

As he approached a working dinner with leaders from Missouri’s agriculture sector this week, Gov. Mike Parson acknowledged the likelihood that the group would discuss U.S. trade policy.

“I’m sure the tariffs will come up tonight,” Parson told reporters before the Wednesday evening dinner, which was closed to media.

It wouldn’t have been the first time in recent weeks that Parson has broached the subject over a meal. The Republican governor met with President Donald Trump last month in Washington, and the governor told reporters that he “brought up the tariffs with (Trump) and told him how important it was for the state of Missouri, and how it could have an effect on us.”

Wednesday’s event brought agriculture industry leaders to the governor’s mansion, where key topics included drought, infrastructure and trade.

“Farmers struggle from year to year, just like anybody else,” said Parson, whose family runs a farm near Bolivar. “I don’t think anyone knows what the end result is yet, but … hopefully that doesn’t affect Missouri any more than it has to.”

Retaliatory tariffs imposed in response to the U.S. tariffs have Missouri farmers fearing price instability.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, include Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt of Missouri, voted Wednesday in a symbolic resolution opposing Trump administration trade actions. The non-binding resolution passed 88-11 to give Congress more of a say in tariffs imposed in the name of national security.

Infrastructure and workforce development

Parson has repeatedly said that infrastructure and workforce development are top issues for the state, and on Wednesday he reiterated that his administration is “going to be pretty aggressive on those two issues.”

Parson said companies cite work ethic and infrastructure as reasons to expand in Missouri, and he hears the same topics prioritized by mayors around the state. Parson told reporters that he does not think there is much difference between the input he’s hearing from rural mayors and urban mayors.

“I think it’s the same message; I think it’s just implemented in different ways,” he said, adding that Kansas City and St. Louis “have the same problems as Lexington, Missouri.”

Parson voiced his determination to protect Missouri’s agriculture sector.

“I’ve always felt like the Department of Agriculture has not been funded to the level I personally would like to see,” Parson said. “But we’ll be talking about those issues as time goes on.”

“It is refreshing to know that we have one of our own in the Governor’s Mansion who clearly understands the challenges for every Missouri farm and ranch family,” said Dan Cassidy, chief administrative officer of Missouri Farm Bureau, in a statement released by Parson’s office Thursday.

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