To the editor:
Imagine this. You have saved for years and now own your small piece of paradise in the Missouri Ozarks of Howell County. You may be from out of state, or you might be a local.
Things are great until you hear that a Brazilian or Chinese company has purchased the land around your property to build a CAFO operation to raise hogs or chickens. (CAFO is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.) You and your neighbors get together to protest and take action, but find out that the local community has no control over the CAFO and that no local health regulations apply. So the CAFO is built and state law lets the CAFO spray liquid manure within 50 feet of your house. Your well becomes polluted, and after a few years you have no choice but to move, and find that your house is worth 30% less than comparable houses not near a CAFO.
If you think this can’t happen you are wrong. Our Republican-controlled state government is working to make this happen in 2020. House Bill 1583 and Senate Bill 699 will let this happen. The Senate website makes this bill sound pretty unimportant. The description says the bill “restricts the inspection of grounds or facilities used for certain agricultural purposes.”
This sounds pretty innocent. But another headline from the Pacific Standard describes the law as follows: “Missouri outlaws rural residents' last line of protection against CAFOs."
Under the new law, local standards regulating industrial-scale livestock operations cannot be stricter than any of those set by the state. Local control is the difference between over 10,000 CAFOs in Iowa with over 700 significantly polluted bodies of water, and 500 CAFOs here in Missouri.
Missouri also has the second largest number of family farms in our country. CAFOs do not help the local economy. Feed for the animals is purchased regionally, not from the local feed store. Tax revenue will not go up because the CAFO land is assessed the same as any other agricultural use. The CAFOs can minimize personal property taxes by selling their animals before Jan. 1 each year. Farm equipment is purchased regionally, not from the local dealer. And the jobs amount to a few minimum wage, no benefit positions, not some type of high paying career.
Call your Senator Mike Cunningham and Representative David Evans and tell them you oppose taking away local control.