Life on a farm is hard work — that goes without saying. The work never seems to end. While hard work is a complete necessity to succeed, it is not always sufficient. When it comes to getting fair weather for the season, the only tool the farmers have in their arsenal is hope. Survival depends on a fair amount of rain and certainly no droughts or floods.
Unfortunately, farmers throughout the state were hit hard from the flooding of 2019. Entire communities were devastated and many farms and fields were left entirely underwater. To make matters worse, complete networks of roads and bridges were fully underwater and damaged. This made recovery from the floods all the more difficult. Not only would farmers have to put in double or triple shifts to prepare their fields for a shortened crop season, but they had to grapple with the devastating effects of destroyed infrastructure. Entire communities were cut off for weeks at a time because of the flooding — farmers suffering heavily among them.
The consequences of the flooding were not suffered by farmers alone, of course. The entire state, rural and urban areas, suffered. However, the livelihood of the agriculture industry depends on the ability to grow produce and raise livestock and to get the products shipped out to the market. One bad year can put a farm in the red. Two or three bad years in a row can sink a farm that has existed for generations. While we cannot control the weather, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the damage from future disasters.
Thankfully, the government acted swiftly to respond to the emergency. Now is the time that the government must take equally swift action to ensure that such damage does not happen again. It is time that the government invests in infrastructure improvements that are resistant to natural disasters such as floods. We can expect these floods to continue in future years, so it makes perfectly good sense to invest in improvements that prevent disasters going forward. Farmers everywhere rely on the roads and bridges being open for travel; our government should be using our tax dollars wisely toward preventative measures, so they spend less in the long run.
On the farm, we hold true to the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.” Rather than waiting for next year’s flood recovery, we should take action today to prepare for the next disaster. I would like to thank the work of Missouri’s congressional delegation, especially that of Congressman Sam Graves, for pushing for these infrastructure improvements. I hope that Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley advocate for such changes in the Senate, and I call upon the entire Missouri State General Assembly to push for improvements at a state level. We are told that agriculture is vital to the health of the state. Well, usable roads and bridges are vital to the health of agriculture. Let’s make the wise decision to invest in disaster-ready infrastructure.