It wasn’t unusual to find chickens clucking in the city yards a century ago. They’re starting to come back—and coming back enough that a special legislative committee soon might be studying the return of urban agriculture.

A small number of Missouri communities have adopted ordinances allowing urban chickens in limited numbers at private homes. The House and Senate are close to approving formation of a special joint interim committee to study the impact of urban farm cooperatives and sustainable living communities on a statewide basis.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Jolie Justus, whose district is in eastern Kansas City. But it has support from Senate Agriculture Committee member Frank Barnitz of Lake Spring , a small community in rural Dent County who says, “We have families that are so far removed from agriculture today that they don’t understand where their food source comes from.” He says it’s time Missouri’s young people started to understand that there is work behind their food.

Although only legislators will be on the committee, there will be an advisory committee with representatives of the departments of Agriculture, Economic Development, Natural Resources, and Health and Senior Services plus eight people from fields such as farm policy, sustainable energy, indoor farming, botanical gardening, and urban development.

The committee has to hold hearings in at leant three urban areas. It has to have recommendations ready for the 20-11 legislature.

The House has approved one version of the bill. The Senate has made some changes. It’s up to the House to decide whether to accept them.

Listen to the debate 13:21 mp3