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Judge halts new Missouri law on large farm regulations

It’s being called a blow for Missouri farmers. Earlier this week, a law was blocked that would have shielded livestock farms from stringent local health rules.

Marion County, Missouri farmer Chuck Keller has been a livestock producer for thirty years.

“We live and work in this environment, raise it and we want to be good stewards,” said Keller.

Keller says Senate Bill 391 would have helped him to continue his operations, but with the bill now stalled, it’s a bit concerning.

“We don’t need more uncertainty in the ag world,” said Keller. “We have enough of it now.”

Especially since the bill would have prevented local officials from passing more stringent regulations than the state on large farms.

“It becomes cost prohibitive,” said Keller. “We still, like any other small business, we have to pay our bills. We have to make a profit. If we can’t do that, we would have to outsource our food supply, which I think would be a very bad thing.”

The bill is particularly aimed at protecting concentrated animal feeding operations, which can produce beef, pork and dairy, just to name a few. Which is all vital to Marion County, according to Western District Commissioner Steven Begley.

“We need to let the farmers do their job,” said Begley.

Begley says farmers have continuously worked under guidelines from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and have done so in a safe and consumer friendly manner.

However, if more rules were in the picture, Begley says we could have bigger problems on our hands.

“The younger people; if you go to imposing more regulations which will in turn, maybe not cut into profit in the beginning, long term it will be hurting the profits, they have to be questioning right now if they want to go into that business,” said Begley. “They don’t need somebody coming in telling them what to do.”

Critics of this law say it’s unconstitutional and infringes on local control. Critics of concentrated animal feeding operations oppose the bill saying they worry about water quality and odors.

The measure won’t take effect as scheduled on August 28. Critics of the law have requested it remain on hold through a Sept. 16 court date.

 

RELATED:

Judge pauses new Missouri law on large farm regulations

RESOURCES:

University of Missouri Extension: Missouri County and Township Restrictions on AFOs

Summary of Bill (SB 391)

 

Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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