Holden signs into law agriculture measure

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden has signed legislation promoting alternative fuels and authorizing fees to promote Missouri agriculture.

Holden was visiting St. Joseph, Palmyra and Dexter on Monday to promote the signing of the bill, which takes effect as law Aug. 28.

Under the new law, ethanol labels no longer will be required on gasoline pumps. Supporters of the change say the yellow stickers that describe the 10 percent ethanol blend of some fuels are scaring motorists away and decreasing sales of the corn-based fuel additive.

Missouri has two ethanol production plants -- Golden Triangle Energy in Craig in northwest Missouri and Northeast Missouri Grain in Macon. Three others are under development.

The plants are projected to produce 47 million gallons of ethanol this year.

"At its essence, the bill is about opportunity -- opportunity for our farmers, opportunity for our processors, opportunity for our customers and opportunity for our rural communities," Holden said in remarks prepared for the St. Joseph stop.

Incentive fund

The law also creates an incentive fund for the production of biodiesel, a fuel typically made from soybeans and usually blended with petroleum.

Funding for the biodiesel initiative is dependent upon passage of a transportation tax proposal on the Aug. 6 statewide ballot. The fund would provide a 30-cent-per-gallon incentive for the first 15 million gallons of biodiesel produced annually. Producers could receive the incentives for up to five years.

Also included in the legislation is a provision banning the use of the gasoline additive MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether. The provision would take effect July 1, 2005.

The additive is intended to reduce harmful emissions and raise octane in gasoline, but it also has entered the groundwater in parts of Missouri after leaking from underground storage tanks, the Department of Natural Resources has said.

The law also increases a tax on grapes in order to fund grape and wine research and development in Missouri.

Additionally, the law charges fees to companies that market their products under the AgriMissouri label, with the funds being used to promote Missouri agriculture. Fees also could be charged to support the certification and production of organic agricultural products, which Holden said is a growing area in Missouri.

"Combined, the provisions of this new law provide producers with new opportunities to expand value-added initiatives, invest in renewable fuel facilities and capitalize on high-value, nontraditional crops and products helping to ensure a bright future for Missouri agriculture," Holden said.

Estil Fretwell, a spokesman for the Missouri Farm Bureau which did not support Holden in the 2000 election, said Monday that the bill was a step in the right direction.

"There are certainly many good provisions, particularly as they relate to value-added agriculture," the spokesman said.

Agriculture bill is HB1348 (Myers).

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