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Family Farmers, Rural Citizens, and Democracy Prevail
Over Corporate Agribusiness

Missouri House Defeats CAFO Bill, HCS SB 187

Tim Gibbons
Jefferson City, Missouri

CAFO in Missouri.
CAFOs lagoons in Missouri.
A CAFO and its lagoons in Missouri. Photos by Nic Paget-Clarke.
Despite the efforts of corporate lobbyists, the Missouri House of Representatives voted down the House Substitute for Senate Bill 187, the CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) Bill. This Bill would have removed public notification requirements to all neighbors living within one mile of a CAFO and would have also drastically weakened local control by taking away counties' authority to enact health ordinances that protect their citizens from the environmental and health risks associated with CAFOs.

In response, Missouri Rural Crisis Center members mounted an intensive campaign against this bill defining it as taking away local control and property rights from the majority of family farmers and rural citizens. Hundreds of members participated in the creation and implementation of the campaign: crafting the message, writing letters, running a radio and print ad campaign, making phone calls and going to the capitol every week.

“This is all about local control,” said Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. “Family farmers and rural citizens believe that decisions regarding our communities should be made at the most local level possible -- the level at which the very people who are impacted can best participate in the democratic process.”

Counties have enacted health ordinances since 1997 to protect their communities from the risks associated with CAFOs, and Missouri Courts have upheld their authority to do so.

Missouri has 106,000 farm operations. Only 451 of these are CAFOs, which is less than one half of one percent. Proponents of this bill tried to hide behind the majority of family farmers to protect a very small minority of industrial livestock operations.

Democrats and Republicans joined family farmers and rural citizens by standing up to corporate agribusiness and their lobbyists and voting to maintain local control.

“This is a major victory for family farmers, rural communities and local democracy that could not have been won without the commitment of family farmers, rural citizens, county commissioners and allies in the conservation, labor, and civil rights communities.” says Perry.

About the author: Tim Gibbons is Communications Director for the Missouri Rural Crusis Center.

Published in In Motion Magazine, May 27, 2005

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