An omnibus criminal justice bill that is stalled in the senate has raised the question of how much protection from legal liability corporate farms should have.
Confined Animal Feeding Operations have battled environmental lawsuits time after time in Missouri. A state Senator whose district includes the Smithfield operation that employs 2500 of his constituents accuses lawyers from back east for filing the suits. Senator Brad Lager maintains animal agriculture is being attacked. He has drafted a proposal severely limiting damages in suits that maintain CAFOs are nuisances but has not yet pushed in during debate on the bill.
The other side comes from Senator Wes Shomeyer of Clarence, who like Lager, represents much of rural Missouri. He opposes anything that limits the rights of people to sue under nuisance laws even after they have won a previous nuisance suit. Shomeyer says people should be able to sue again if the farm does not solve its problem.
Time is running out for the omnibus criminal justice bill. The clock might be the biggest factor in determining whether the continuing liability issue becomes a factor in whether the bill passes.