The sponsor of the bill taking most power to regulate large livestock operations away from counties hopes to get his bill back to the Senate this week. But he’ll have to overcome strong opponents.
Senator Chris Koster of Harrisonville says he has hammered out a compromise acceptable to the Farm Bureau, to farm commodities groups, and to the Missouri Association of Counties. Some counties strongly dispute that last contention and are threatening to sue their association if it continues to support the bill.
They say it will take away local control over health issues caused by confined animal feeding operations. Koster thinks local control is greatly over-rated on such issues.
Koster wants to put most regulation of CAFOs at the state level. And he wants to give them a friendlier name. Koster refers to them as Managed Environmental Livestock Operations, the acronym for which he pronounces "mellow."
Koster says local health boards, which set standards that control development of CAFOs, generally have no expertise. And he says it makes no sense to put the livestock industry under 114 different regulatory schemes–different regulations in each county. He suggests health ordinances only move setbacks to an "absurd" distance to hide a problem. He says the MELO standards try to fix the problem, not obscure it.
Despite Koster’s claim that the key players are on board, some senators are feeling grass-roots heat from back home. Others say Koster’s bill does nothing to protect state parks, historic sites, float streams and recreational lakes.
Koster has little time to overcome the opposition that forced him to sideline the bill last week.
Only six weeks are left in the legislative session.
(The bill is SB364)