Attorney general contests Arrow Rock's buffer against industrial livestock feeders

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 | 8:35 a.m. CST; updated 10:59 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed an appeal Oct. 28 contesting the buffer zone around Arrow Rock village that prohibited a concentrated animal feeding operation, known as a CAFO, from operating within a two-mile radius of the village.

"What this means is that our buffer zone is threatened,” Julie Fisher, a resident of Arrow Rock, said.

Fisher and her husband own a home in Arrow Rock and were among the first group of citizens to sue the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in support of the buffer zone. Fisher said she thinks CAFOs are harmful to both people and the environment.

There are about 450 CAFOs in Missouri. There are several different classes of CAFOs, depending on size and number of animals.

“We’re prepared to take this to the Missouri Supreme Court,” Fisher said. “We’re not going to drop this.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau has also appealed the denial of a previous motion that prevented it from intervening in the case.

The farm bureau issued a statement that listed several reasons why the ruling on the buffer zone should be reversed. Among them it cited that there was no “legal or factual basis to impose a buffer zone,” and that the court ruling “affects those who are not parties to the action." The brief also states that the circuit judge refused to consider arguments made by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

"The ruling by the circuit court judge cannot and should not be left unchallenged. Just the fact that the circuit judge did not consider all of the arguments is enough of a reason for this case to be overturned," Charles Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said in the statement.

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David Finke November 4, 2009 | 6:07 p.m.

This is a good article, but there are several points that it did NOT make, which would flesh it out:

(1) Koster is pursuing an appeal which his client, the Department of Natural Resources--and the Governor's office--say they do not want to go forward. I predict he may lose this one on the simple ground that he doesn't have a client.

(2) When he was a state senator (and before pretending to change parties) Koster had sponsored the notorious SB 364, written by the Farm Bureau. It would have taken away the rights of counties (there are over 20 of them who have thus far exercised it) to enact health ordinances to try to regulate the damages caused by CAFOs. This from a party that supposedly believes in local control! That bill also would have prohibited people from filing suits against CAFOs when their water gets polluted and their air unbreathable. So, it's pretty clear that Koster's REAL client in this despicable action is Big Ag.

(3) When the Farm Bureau says that the circuit judge refused to consider arguments made by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and that the "judge did not consider all of the arguments," they are deliberately obscuring the primary legal basis of the judge's ruling.
Here's the story: When 3 groups* filed suit against DNR for granting a permit to build a 4800-head CAFO, we had dozens of allegations we were ready to prove. Jay Nixon, as AG, made it clear that he would not defend DNR's action because it was simply indefensible. He noted--as did our suit--that Childers is the state's Chief Historic Preservation officer, but had done NOTHING to uphold the interests of Arrow Rock or 2 other state parks where CAFOs were put next door.
So, under Director Doyle Childers, DNR hired an outside law firm. That firm simply dropped the ball. They failed to do what you learn in 1st-year law school: OBSERVE DEADLINES.
They did not file their response within the statutory limits, and then howled that they weren't given a chance to be heard. The judge made it clear that under the law she had NO CHOICE but to grant the factual basis of our allegations. If DNR's hired guns shot themselves in the foot, they shouldn't blame either the plaintiffs or the judge.
* Those organizations are: (1)The Town of Arrow Rock, (2)The Friends of Arrow Rock, and (3)The Missouri Parks Association. None of these are hostile to agriculture, but they recognized that CAFOs represent only 1/2 of 1% of the Missouri's farming operations. AND, that places of public trust and recreation should be shielded from the noxious environment of factory farming.

Please keep following this story. Julie Fisher is an excellent source, who has been there from Day One of this fight. She can also put you in touch with our lawyer, if you want more details on the story.

Thank you and good wishes.
David Finke: Arrow Rock & Columbia

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