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MO Soybean seeks more privacy for reporting major water users

The Senior Policy Director at the Missouri Soybean Association says the state’s soybean farmers want to see state legislation passed that would protect the privacy of farmers who irrigate their crops.

Casey Wasser tells Brownfield major water users are required to report to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and this bill would keep some information from being released to the public.

“We’re going to try and pass legislation to restrict how much data the DNR can release about one specific farmer and his or her operation,” says Wasser. “They can release it on a county-wide basis and whoever needs to aggregate that data. DNR uses this information to defend our rights.”

Past President Matt Wright from Shelby County in northeast Missouri says if there are more protections in place, water usage accuracy can improve in the state.

“If farmers know that data is protected, they’re more willing to report. The numbers that come out are super important for us to know and to track where we’re at,” says Wright.

Wasser says farmers can use the water that’s on or adjacent to the land if an issue isn’t created for someone else downstream and so far, it hasn’t been a problem in Missouri. But there have been issues with water rights in other states.

The new MSA President, Renee Fordyce from Harrison County in northwest Missouri, says it will be important to continue connecting with lawmakers on this issue and others in the months ahead.

“It’s so important, even more so today with so much false information out there, to tell our story.”

Wasser says the association is working with a few Missouri lawmakers to file the legislation and he says the deadline to file a bill in the Missouri Legislature is mid-March.

Brownfield interviewed Wasserman, Wright and Fordyce at the Missouri Soybean Association’s annual meeting.

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