DNR: Missouri’s soil and water conservation tax has improved more than five million acres

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Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Carol Comer listens to testimony at the Joint Committee on Agriculture hearing on May 28, 2020 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

(MONET) — The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) credits Missouri’s soil and water conservation tax and program for reducing soil erosion, and for improving more than five million acres.

DNR agricultural liaison Kurt Boeckmann tells the Joint Committee on Agriculture that a one-tenth-of-one-percent parks, soils and water sales tax was first approved by Missouri voters 36 years ago.

“In every county in Missouri, there are 114 districts, one in each county, and those districts provide technical assistance and cost-share that is generated through that sales tax,” Boeckmann testifies recently.

Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment for a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales tax for parks, soil and water conservation in 1984. Voters have overwhelmingly renewed the tax four times, with the last one happening in 2016.

DNR credits soil and water conservation programs for helping Missouri landowners keep 186-million tons of soil from eroding into our waterways, since 1984. Mr. Boeckmann testifies the tax has been crucial.

“Most of the practices that are offered through this program are practices that are benefiting the soil loss that we have … over 255,000 contracts have been offered to landowners,” says Boeckmann.

The majority of the soil and water portion of the tax has been used to assist farmers through voluntary programs that are developed by the Soil and Water Districts Commission.

The tax has historically received bipartisan support and is backed by both Missouri Farm Bureau and the Sierra Club.

“So it’s extremely important to anybody who uses our park system, our beautiful parks system, or anybody who drinks water in the state of Missouri, because this (tax) makes a real difference in both preserving our soil and protecting our water supply,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst told Missourinet in 2016, just before the election.

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