Recently retired University of Iowa research engineer, Dr. Chris Jones, author of “The Swine Republic, Struggles with the Truth About Agriculture and Water Quality,” accepted an invitation to speak this Friday, Nov. 17, at the Judy Thompson Conference Center on the Drury University Campus, 609 Bob Barker Blvd, Springfield. Doors open at 5 p.m.; program 6-7:30 p.m.

As the scientist responsible for the system of water quality sensors maintained by the University of Iowa, Jones regularly blogged what the data reported, water dangerously polluted with nonpoint agricultural “nutrients.” Missouri has no comparable system of water quality sensors.

Jones’ recently published book is a collection of those blogs. Check out the blog that grabbed public attention in 2019 just as we faced Senate Bill 319, https://cjones.iihr.uiowa.edu/blog/2019/03/iowas-real-population. It compares Iowa’s human population waste to the ghastly amounts of food animals’ waste in the state, by watershed.

In 2019, Cedar County residents opposed Senate Bill 391, which disemboweled authority of county commissions and county health departments to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in their communities.

Our Cedar County Commission partnered with the Cooper County Public Health Board, non-profit Friends of Responsible Agriculture, and three farmers to file a law suit against the state of Missouri. The goal, to protect rural residents’ water, air, soil, our precious rural lifestyles, and our property values from CAFOs intruding too close to where we live. After the Cole County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the state, the appellants appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. In March 2023, it ruled unanimously that our state legislature has full authority to determine the proximity of CAFO industrial barns, omnipresent manure waste lagoons, and perpetual manure waste application, to our homes, public places, and water features. Our legislature requires no setback from homes for “barns” confining up to 81,999 laying hens, or up to 2,499 finishing hogs. All sizes of manure systems may be located within 50-ft of a residence and manure waste applied within 50-ft of property boundaries. Think about that.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn more about the looming clear and present danger from Dr. Jones and panelists: Tim Gibbons, Missouri Rural Crisis Center; Jess Piper, a fierce advocate for rural communities; and Curtis Millsap, who raises broilers, turkeys, layers, goats, hogs, cattle, flowers, and vegetables; plus operates a home bakery and several other enterprises, on his 20-acre Millsap Farms in Springfield.

Arrive early! Let’s fill the 300 seats!

Cheryl Y. Marcum

Cedar County