Bill could take away local control of animal feeding operations

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FULTON - Jeff Jones is a fourth generation farmer who now lives about a quarter of a mile away from 10,000 pigs.

Jones fought the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, since 2014. Now he's fighting to make sure counties still have the ability to make their own rules regarding such operations.

Senate Bill 391 would require counties to stick to state regulations, even if they want stricter controls.

“We need local control so we can put in health ordinances and regulations that are stronger than the state regulations," Jones said. 

Currently, Jones says there are 20 counties in Missouri with their own regulations for CAFOs.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter , R-Jefferson City, is the bill's sponsor. He sees the bill as a way to keep agriculture on top.

“Agriculture is our number industry, so we want to do what we can to keep our number one standing," he said.

Bernskoetter said there are economic benefits to CAFOs.

“You’ll be able to feed more animals in a smaller area and that will keep the price of our meat low," he said.

Jones is more concerned with the quality of life of people who live near a CAFO.

He said, if the manure from the animals in the CAFO were to leak, it could get in the water supply. The manure can also be used as a fertilizer and can get into bodies of water that way, too.

“Whenever you concentrate that many animals in that small of an area you're going to have a lot health risks to the the animals themselves and the people around them," Jones said.

The CAFO that was just built close to Jones is owned by Eichelberger Farms, based out of Iowa.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Eichelberger Farms and has not heard back yet.

Jones said the CAFO moved pigs in back in January, and since then, some of his neighbors have decided to sell their houses to try and move away from the CAFO.

Bernskoetter said, even with the bill, counties and their residents will be just fine.

“I think as long as they're following the state laws and DNR is expecting them like they're supposed to I think we can do what we need to do to keep our streams clean," he said.

The bill was debated on the Senate floor on April 30. It is now headed to the House floor for debate.