Lack of farming regulations is not unique to Callaway County

Thursday, July 3, 2014 | 6:21 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Callaway County doesn't have regulations that could prevent a proposed hog farm from being built there.It's not alone.

Only 23 out of 114 Missouri counties have county-level regulations for confined animal feeding operations. Three others have local but not county-level regulations, according to MU Extension. But this doesn't mean that CAFOs in other counties are completely unregulated. They still have to abide by state and federal laws, John Lory, MU Extension associate professor, said.

"Missouri has a two-tier (permit) system," he said.

The EPA defines a CAFO as a farm with 2,500 hogs or more in a confined space for 45 days or more. In Missouri, CAFOs, such as the one Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms Inc. plans to build south of Interstate 70, must submit a nutrient management plan to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources before building. These plans must include how the facility would store manure, litter and process wastewater; maintain the facility; dispose of dead animals; divert clean water from the production area so as not to contaminate it; protect waste from entering waterways; develop test protocols; and ensure appropriate record-keeping, according to the DNR's website.

Such farms also have to undergo regular unscheduled inspections by DNR officials.

Once a potential CAFO obtains approval from the DNR, it must obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the EPA, as required by the Clean Water Act. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System monitors sources of pollution that could potentially damage waterways.

Counties with health or zoning ordinances pertaining to CAFOs, such as Clay, Platte and Camden, have few or no operations within their borders. Counties without such regulations tend to attract a higher number of CAFOs. The highest density of these farms occurs in the southeastern corner of the state in Jasper, Lawrence, Barry, Newton and McDonald counties, according to data collected by DNR.

Although less than a quarter of Missouri counties regulate CAFOs, the state is still less populated with large animal operations compared to some of its neighbors. The Show Me State has 498 registered confinement farms, 237 of which are hog farms. Iowa had 6,266 hog operations in 2012. Illinois had 2,900 in the same year. Kentucky had 750 in 2007, and Tennessee had 1,491 in 2002.

Supervising editor is Landon Woodroof.

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