Missouri's legislature has voted to make Missouri a CAFO-ready state, opening the doors to a stampede of corporate-backed confined animal feeding operations, many of them foreign, to move freely into any county unregulated by a local health ordinance.

DNR regulations do not adequately protect against Missouri’s roughly 500 CAFOs. These operations have a track record of fouling the air and water, driving down property values, and forcing neighbors off their land.

We have a clear picture of what happened in states such as Iowa and North Carolina that passed similar laws before: Ten thousand CAFOs now pollute Iowa’s air and waterways.

CAFOs produce a much larger volume of untreated waste than comparable human populations. Pits designed to hold thousands of gallons of raw manure pose a significant risk of catastrophic overflow from heavy rains.

When spills reach waterways, decomposition consumes dissolved oxygen, killing aquatic life. The historic rains that flooded millions of acres of Midwestern cropland this spring flushed vast amounts of fertilizer and manure into waterways, triggering a potentially massive season of algae blooms.

Since Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina last year, CAFO farmers face staggering financial losses and likely bankruptcies. Corporations have driven out many independent farmers who now serve as contractors to industry giants like Smithfield and Tyson.

Farmers have little power in those contracts since the Trump administration’s USDA removed protections against corporate exploitation.

SB 391 is on hold following a ruling by Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. It temporarily protects a regulation passed by the Cooper County Health Board, limiting dangerous gas emissions and banning underground manure tanks on karst topography.

Taney, Hickory and Moniteau counties are also considering local ordinances.

Please call your county commission and urge them to pass a local health ordinance to protect your county from the worst impacts of this new law.

The rise in industrial agricultural operations has already seen a steep decline in the number of family farms, along with the economies and populations of rural towns.

As revealed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article "Is Missouri’s Agricultural Law Being Rewritten In Hong Kong?", CAFOs benefit industrial agricultural corporations at the expense of Missouri farms and towns.

Mollie Freebairn lives in Jefferson City. You can reach her at 573-556-8653 with questions.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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