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Missouri governor's veto saves family farmers

(Wednesday, July 7, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (July 7, 2004) – Yesterday, despite industrial livestock lobbying for confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs , Governor Holden vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for 7499 hogs to be your next door neighbor and contaminate your drinking water.

According to Gov. Holden’s letter to the Missouri secretary of state, he vetoed House Bill 1177 because the “bill prohibits enforcement activities where an accidental spill occurs and the discharge of effluent is wholly contained within the landowner’s property. This language would prevent the Missouri Department of Natural Resources from issuing violation notices or even investigating these spills, severely limiting the agency’s ability to monitor pollution in and around a CAFO.”

With the veto of this bill, family farmers rejoiced because organizations like Missouri Farmers Union, Farmers for the Future, Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Missouri Sierra Club fight for legislation that fights for family farms. Last year, Gov. Holden vetoed a similar bill that mirrored HB 1177’s weakening of local county government’s authority to pass health ordinances.

“County-level ordinances are one of the only tools in Missouri that citizens have to protect their communities from the detrimental impacts caused by huge industrial livestock facilities,” said Terry Spence of Northern Missouri ’s Family Farmers for the Future. “This bill was nothing more than a blatant attempt by CAFO owners to demise and destruct the fundamental regulations that hold them accountable for environmental degradation.”

Industrial livestock facilities generate massive amounts of manure that poses a dangerous threat to the air and water in rural areas. In three counties of Northern Missouri, Premium Standard Farms produces 1.6 million hogs per year. These facilities generate the same waste as a city of more than 2 million people. These facilities have discharged more than one million gallons of liquefied feces into Missouri ’s streams and rivers.

“Fish kills and polluted streams are not what Missouri’s rural communities want,” said Carla Klein, Ozark Chapter Director for Missouri Sierra Club. “The pollution from these facilities can be devastating to the environment and the health of residents living near factory farms. The Governor acted to protect the rights of Missouri communities to shape their own future, rather than caving to corporate pressure.”

To add to Klein’s point, Jim Compton, a livestock producer from Dallas County and member of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center , said that “in Missouri , we’ve had more than a decade of experience to evaluate the impacts of industrial livestock, and their record is not a good one. Far from being the savior of rural areas, industrial livestock operations have been a disaster for Missouri’s economy, environment and rural communities.”

A University of Missouri-Columbia study found that industrial farms create a net loss of employment because they drive family farmers and the local merchants that depend upon them out of business. 12,000 hogs produced under industry farm contracts would create 9.44 jobs, but they would displace 27.97 jobs. This is why Missouri Farmers Union President Russ Kremer is excited about the veto.

“The Governor’s veto is a solid victory for the true constituents of Missouri-family farmers, rural residents, consumers and their communities,” said Kremer. “We applaud Gov. Holden for recognizing the economic, environmental and social benefits of family farm agriculture in Missouri.”

For interviews with Missouri Farmers Union , Farmers for the Future, Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Missouri Sierra Club representatives, please contact Tricia Falter at 573.659.4787 or tfalter@missourifarmersunion.org.