Missouri should protect its parks from smelly farms

Wednesday, December 5, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:32 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As you know, large factory farms have sought to set up concentrated animal feeding operations near Roaring River State Park, Arrow Rock and Battle of Athens State Historic Site. Such factory farms confine thousands of animals in close quarters, and, understandably, their waste byproducts emit foul odors. In Missouri’s recent past, some factory farm waste containment systems have failed, spilling waste that pollutes streams.

Missouri is big enough — 69,709 square miles — that factory meat farms don’t need to be set up near state parks and trout streams. Once a factory farm moves too close to a state park, word can travel fast that a vacation area stinks.

Columbians know the value of tourism, whether it’s a football Saturday or a ride along the Katy Spur. Tourism in Missouri is a $13 billion industry. Our state has one of the top five parks systems in the nation. But it’s doubtful Missouri parks can weather the perception by potential visitors that we’ve switched from the Show-Me State to the Smell-Me State.

Good neighbors can find sensible ways to keep our parks and factory farms separate.

John Robinson is a former director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.

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