Debate about a proposal to crack down on nuisance lawsuits in rural Missouri gets heated in the House.
Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia, accuses supporters of propping up huge hog farms in the guise of helping family farmers. Kelly says HB 209 will merely protect corporate farms, not family farms; a point he makes in debate with Rep. Tom Loehner, a Republican who farms near Koelztown.
“Nobody sued you, because you are in fact a family farmer. Morgan Stanley Bank owning Smithfield is different than your farm in Osage County,” Kelly tells Loehner during House floor debate.
“I understand that,” Loehner responds, “but, and you tell me this or not, according to law, it can happen.”
Loehner argues that life in rural Missouri is changing and he foresees more legal action as urban sprawl grows next to farm operations. Kelly contends that the bill is being pushed solely to protect large confined hog farms, such as Premium Standard Farms in northern Missouri. The sponsor, Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), acknowledges that he wants to protect PSF and the jobs it creates in his district, but he insists that his bill also protects family farmers from lawsuits filed by city dwellers moving into rural Missouri.
The House approved the bill on a 109-to-53 vote and sent it to the Senate, which has approved a similar measure of its own.