The Missouri Soybean Association recently announced their support for expanding agricultural exports through the Aerotropolis program that is currently under consideration in the Missouri General Assembly.
"Exporting materials in general is an effective way to stimulate our economy. Now, Missouri has the ability to export not only manufactured goods, but animal agricultural goods as well," said Dale Ludwig, executive director of the Missouri Soybean Association, Jefferson City.
Aerotropolis legislation is being debated in the 2011 Missouri Legislature special session. The proposal intends to make Lambert-St. Louis International Airport a major international cargo hub, with warehouses and manufacturing facilities near the airport. Specifically, it would be dedicated to international cargo around the airport and designated "gateway zones" and foreign trade zones within 50 miles of the airport.
The bill currently contains $60 million in tax credits for companies that facilitate exports. Aerotropolis advocates have said tax credits are needed to establish the cargo business in St. Louis and compete with Chicago exporters, but opponents have voiced their objection of the state legislature passing more tax credits during difficult economic times and tightening state budgets.
If passed, it can help Missouri become a worldwide leader in exporting goods to China, according to the Missouri Soybean Association. "Missouri agriculture is the backbone of Missouri's economy; giving farmers the ability to build their customer base is crucial for our future," Ludwig said. "More buyers for Missouri agriculture products means more jobs and a better economy for rural Missouri. In a time of economic uncertainty passing this legislation is a step in the right direction."