With CAFO law now in effect, a Mid Missouri farmer turns to lawsuit

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FULTON - A newly approved law could have major effects on Missouri farmers.

Under Senate Bill 391, no health ordinances brought forth from a county can supercede a state ordinance. Many farmers take issue with that, saying that this new law is wrong. Those farmers main issue came with regulations relating to CAFO's.

"What 391 does is it takes away the local control by taking away the voice of the people by not allowing any health ordinances more stringent than what state regulations are to take place," says Jeff Jones, owner of Jones Angus Farm. "And this is our last line of defense to protect our homes from these large foreign corporations."

Leslie Holloway, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, says many farmers concerns are unfounded.

"They are making arguments that would indicate that they believe that the county should be able to impose more stringent health regulations relative to these livestock farms than what the state is doing," says Holloway. "But they don't provide any justification for enacting the more stringent health ordinances."

Jones says his complaints to the bills sponsor, Senator Mike Bernskoetter, fell on deaf ears. Because of that, Jones sued.

"They're not understanding in Jefferson City what our needs are, to be able to live and the ability for CAFO's and people to live together. We want to be able to live in harmony, but without accountability to these large out of state and possibly foreign corporations, it makes it very tough for us to live next to them," says Jones.

The Missouri Farm Bureau was one of those named in the lawsuit.

"There are several parties who have filed a lawsuit against Farm Bureau as well as other agricultural organizations... in an attempt to overturn Senate Bill 391."

Jones says one of the biggest concerns is a CAFO's proximity to homes and schools.

"The setbacks on this are very small. We need larger setbacks, 3/10 of a mile, approximately, is not adequate. We need to make sure that our schools and our homes and our churches are protected from this, and Senate Bill 391 is lacking (sic) the peoples voice to be heard. 

The first hearing on the lawsuit is December 9th, 2019.