“I don’t want to see our pretty, pristine state turned into a hog waller.”
Q. Tell me about your lawsuit.
We just won a temporary restraining order from Cole County Presiding Judge Patricia Joyce that temporarily stops the state from enforcement of Senate Bill 391. This bill strips county commissions and county health boards of the ability to enact any ordinances that pertain to CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations.) A hearing is set for Sept. 16 in Jefferson City for the court to determine whether or not existing ordinances can be enforced and if the state has the authority to take that right away.
Q. Have you asked Governor Parson if he would sign a bill to grandfather the CAFO ordinance the commission passed in Cedar County?
No, that would require the legislative process and I already know the answer to that. We pleaded to all of our legislators and others to put a grandfather clause in the bill and it fell on deaf ears. There was also an amendment that would allow the people of a county to vote on CAFO ordinances. That was shot down.
This doesn’t seem to be about what people want. It boils down to corporate agriculture and what they want.
Q. What does it do to people who live in a rural area?
Kenny, I’ve always believed that the people should have a voice. If they don’t want to risk their health, quality of life and the environment around them, there should be options. SB 391 eliminates any option.
In our county, we passed an ordinance because of these concerns. They were presented to us by farmers, ranchers and others. To this day I’ve never got a negative comment for doing so from anyone living in our county.
Q. What does our ordinance do?
It provides setbacks – a quarter mile setback from an occupied dwelling, a quarter mile setback from a stream, a quarter mile setback from another CAFO operation and a half mile setback where there are 10 or more houses in a 1,400 foot area radius, a little over 150 acre area. We do not inspect or monitor any facet of operation. It’s all about location.
Q. Every time our representative, Warren Love, has been in there, he has tried to get this passed.
I know it.
I think it is because the Missouri Cattleman’s Association supports him and strongly supports this. No doubt there would be big money made in large scale feedlot operations but for who? How will that benefit the ranchers of Cedar County and how long before they can’t compete?
What I don’t understand is why the legislature is set on making the whole state of Missouri “agri-ready” through passing SB 391. There are lots of counties that are “agri-ready”. I don’t have a problem with that. If that’s what Polk County or St. Clair County want, then more power to them. I was at Hickory Counties public meeting last week and there was strong opposition to their commissions consideration of a CAFO ordinance. I witnessed local control at work when they decided not to pass an ordinance because of that opposition. That is the voice of the people I am talking about.
There are 20 counties out of 114 that have CAFO ordinances, that leaves 94 counties who do not. A lot of these counties that haven’t experienced this sort of thing, when they do start experiencing it, they’ll have no recourse to take action.
It is almost impossible to change legislative law. Our little law could be changed by a vote of two to one in the county court. Nobody has made that request nor has anyone run against Don or me wanting to change the CAFO we passed.
I’ve seen statements justifying SB 391 that said county commissioners don’t have the expertise to enforce water quality and air quality laws. I totally agree and we don’t. We just wanted something that everybody could live with. Again it’s all about location.
It wasn’t a bunch of animal rights or environmental activists that wanted the rules we passed. It was the common people of Cedar County.
I think it is a tragedy and a travesty that the rest of these counties will no longer have the regulatory ability should the need arise. There may come a time when they would give their right arm to have some control. We may not have any either if we don’t get a favorable ruling.
Q. Well, Governor Parson is a country boy.
I know it. That’s what hurts. That’s what really makes it sad. I was so proud when a rural boy got into that office.” He took the message to Jefferson City that one size fits all legislation did not work and nobody knows better than the rural people what works for them. I call that local control.
Q. Have you ever got to talk to him about it?
No. I called his office, left messages and sent emails.
What the people want and their ability to self govern is the bottom line. Most folks are aware of regulatory failures that recently occurred on the Buffalo River drainage in Arkansas or Grand Lake in Oklahoma and don’t want to see that here. And don’t tell me the DNR will protect us.
I don’t want to see our pretty, pristine state turned into a hog waller.