Bucolic Missouri farm.
This bucolic Missouri farm utilizes a number of soil and water conservation practices, including crop rotation. (Photo: Department of Natural Resources.)

With so much government waste being exposed by the media, it’s right to wonder how your tax dollars are getting spent. Naturally, while working to promote the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax, I wanted to know how much of that money made it to its intended targets. I’ve cited earlier on the blog that the tax raises about $100 million annually, and that the funds are evenly split between the State Parks system and the Soil and Water Conservation District programs. For this post, I went in-depth to the district commissioners of Soil and Water Conservation funding to find out how Missouri farmers are able to apply for and utilize tax funding. It turns out that it’s surprisingly straightforward! Following a few key procedures, money from the sales tax makes it’s way to Missouri farms and starts working for us.

1. Every year, district officials for each Soil & Water District in the state make an estimate based on the number of farmers in their district, funds requested by farmers the previous year, and other factors to determine how much money from the tax to request from the state. Each district can obtain up to $400,000 annually, providing that they used 90% of the funds requested the previous year. If, however, a Soil & Water District’s initial estimate is too low, it is possible to apply for and obtain more funding later in the year. Dollars not spent in one district can be transferred to another.

2. Missouri farmers file a request to their Soil & Water District office for funds to implement one of the many approved programs for soil and water conservation on their farms. The requests are taken on a case-by-case basis and farmers are served on a rolling basis. First come, first served, etc.

3. Once a request has been received, engineers, soil and water experts, and district managers evaluate the best way to address issues of erosion and run-off on each farm. Working with each farmer, these professionals develop a plan to improve soil and water quality. Some programs carry cost-share requirements with Missouri farmers, normally amounting to each party paying 50% of the cost of the project. Work on the project begins, and your tax dollars are put to work in the vital task of protecting our soil, waterways, and farming industry!

The other half of the tax revenue funds our state parks system and helps to keep our parks open and free to enter. For more about how the Missouri state parks system is funded by the tax, refer to this article. To learn more about approved  soil and water conservation programs, or to apply for Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax funding for your farm, check out this page.

Remember to vote YES on the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax on November 8th, 2016!
Find your polling place here, then pick up a sign or sticker from our office to show your support! Call 314-727-0600 x 10, or email Heather at hnavarro@moenviron.org to schedule your pick-up.