Missouri judge pauses industrial farm bill

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo- A judge put a temporary pause on a new Missouri law that sought to shield large farms from stringent local health rules.

Cole County Presiding Judge Patricia Joyce on Monday blocked the new law from being implemented until a court hearing on September 16th. The law was slated to take effect August 28, reports the AP.

A lawsuit was filed on Monday by the Cedar County Commission, Cooper County Public Health Center, Friends of Responsible Agriculture, and three Missouri farmers allege that Senate Bill 391 is unconstitutional and does not operate to rescind previously adopted county health ordinances.

Stone County just passed a health ordinance that would prevent Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, CAFO’s, from coming to the county. There are a total of 22 counties now considering health ordinances against CAFO’s at least five in the Ozarks.

The law would prevent local officials from enacting more stringent regulations than the state on large farms that raise hogs, poultry, and cattle.

The plaintiffs say they worry that counties with health regulations already in place could be sued and argue that the law infringes on local control.

Brian and others against the bill say they are worried about the pollution.

“Every resident in Cooper County has the right to clean air and clean water,” said Melanie Hutton, Administrator of the Cooper County Public Health Center. “The health regulation adopted by our board establishes air emission standards for CAFO’s and prohibits underground concrete manure storage pits in areas where the Natural Resource Conservation Service say the soils have severe construction limitations or where the Missouri Geological Survey says there is karst geology,” said Hutton.

“Waste from CAFO’s is especially damaging where rain, runoff, and seepage through shallow soils present a clear and present danger to the many springs, creeks, streams, lakes, and water tables in the Ozarks,” says Todd Parnell, Former Chair of the Missouri Clean Water Commission.

Brian told Ozarks First that Iowa passed a similar law and now they have around 10,000 CAFO’s, as of right now Missouri has about 500.

A spokesman for state attorneys at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

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