Bill would stop local assessor from inspecting agriculture facilities

5 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Monday, April 29 2019 Apr 29, 2019 Monday, April 29, 2019 7:11:00 PM CDT April 29, 2019 in News
By: Francene Bethune, KOMU 8 News

JEFFERSON CITY - A bill could prohibit county assessors from inspecting certain agriculture facilities. 

House Bill 951 says the following facilities to be exempt from county inspection:

  • The production of eggs
  • The production of milk or other dairy products
  • The raising of livestock or poultry; or
  • The production or raising of dogs or other animals that are not used to produce any food product.

The bill says that it will give the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the U.S Department of Agriculture, and the county sheriff authority to inspect grounds of these facilities. Monday state lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee had a hearing about the bill.

Jeff Jones is a local cattle farmer in Callaway County. He said that large farming operation like CAFOs needs local authorities to inspect them. A CAFO is a concentrated animal feeding operation.

"People that have county commissions or health ordinances will not have the power to inspect these large CAFOs," said Jones.

Jones said the state doesn't usually inspect often, but instead they inspect once every five years leaving a room for incidents to happen. 

"The CAFO about a mile from my house had a breach of the dam that was the lagoon holding the waste and thousands of gallons of pollution went down the creeks," he said. "If it weren't for local authorities, then they wouldn't be held accountable for their wrongdoing."

Shannon Cooper, a spokesman for the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, supports the bill and believes the bill will prevent places like the Humane Society to enter facilities posing as county assessors. 

"To believe that county commissioners are currently out there right now going on people's property to look for violations of Clean Water Rules or any other DNR [Department of Natural Resources] is ridiculous," said Cooper. 

Kent Haden, representative from Audrain and Callaway Counties, sponsored the bill and said the bill will establish a clear authority. 

"Very few people on the county health board are qualified to inspect livestock facilities," said Haden."Its not what they're trained for. It's not their background."

The bill also specifies that the county can inspect these facilities if the owner if requested by the owner. 

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