Missourians should take a moment to thank Gov. Jay Nixon for his courageous action to veto HB209. Had it been enacted into law, HB209 would have stripped away important legal protections that hold industrial livestock factories accountable for destroying property values. In order to protect our constitutional rights and local control of our democracy, Gov. Nixon has made the right decision to retain current laws and legal authorities.
HB209 would have made it easier for Wall Street companies like Smithfield Foods to bring in outside capital and develop large industrial livestock facilities in rural areas. Unlike smaller-scale family farm operations of the past and present, industrial operations like those Smithfield owns in North Missouri generate millions of pounds of raw, untreated manure that can leak into water and foul the air.
Missouri citizens have responded to these operations with community meetings, trips to Jefferson City and constant vigilance to demand some level of accountability for their lost property values and diminished quality-of-life. With little success, they have turned to lawsuits to force Smithfield and their subsidiary, Premium Standard Farms, to clean up their act. These lawsuits have been one of the only methods to forcing PSF/Smithfield to act as a responsible corporate entity. When he was Missouri's attorney general, Governor Nixon was involved in these lawsuits and understands this issue very well.
Supporters of HB209 have made a lot of stink about "modern agriculture" and the "dangerous" threat of lawsuits. The truth is, HB209 is about the main street economy versus the Wall Street economy. Are we going to have laws and policies that favor Missouri family farmers attempting to make a living as they have for generations, or do we want laws and policies that favor Smithfield and their Wall Street shareholders? With his veto of HB209, it is clear that Gov. Nixon stands solidly on the side of main street.