Immigrant farming; Indpendence goes green; Missouri's tax situation

Jun 27, 2013

Originally from Laos, Air Philavanh now farms 11 acres near Milo, Iowa. He’s built a shelter for his cattle out of a dilapidated barn.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Our neighboring city of Independence, Mo., is going green with its lighting over the few years. 

At the 81st annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Las Vegas last past weekend, Independence announced its plans to partner with Philips Lighting on an energy and maintenance saving project.

All 12,000 street lamps are expected to be replaced with LED lighting over the next three to four years.  Independence is one of the first cities in Missouri to embrace this lighting technology. Mayor Don Reimal says the move to LED lighting will significantly improve the city’s carbon footprint.

“We want to make sure that we are doing what is green for the community,” he says. “We’re going to eliminate 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere.  It’s kind of like removing 900 cars a year from the streets.”

Reimal also says the conversion to LED street lighting is expected to reduce energy costs by 50 percent.  That’s about four million dollars in energy and maintenance costs over the next 10 years.  He says the city will not lose any money by implementing the project and he hopes Independence will set the standard for other communities in Missouri to convert. 

As immigration takes center stage in Washington, minorities – often immigrants – are a growing presence among the nation’s farmers. The last Census of Agriculture showed the number of Latino or Hispanic farmers was up 14 percent while the figure for Asians increased 40 percent – and those numbers are rising, with recent African immigrants also finding a place in agriculture. Immigrants who are new farmers face similar challenges as any other beginners and can reap the same rewards. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer introduces one immigrant in the heart of Iowa whose farm is taking shape.

After Kansas dramatically cut its income tax rates in 2012, Missouri legislators scrambled to push for similar cuts to stay competitive with its next-door neighbor when it came to attracting businesses.  But, a recently published brief from MU’s Institute of Public Policy comparing Missouri’s effective tax rate with its eight surrounding states found that Missouri is actually already a low-tax state. KBIA’s Harum Helmy sat down with public policy researcher David Valentine, one of the brief’s authors.