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Your Opinion: Hold accountable CAFO-promoting politicians

Your Opinion: Hold accountable CAFO-promoting politicians

July 8th, 2019 by Michael Lester, Jefferson City in Opinion

Dear Editor:

Independence Day celebrations remind me of our good fortune to live in a representative democracy — a form of government in which "we the people" have a voice and some measure of control over larger forces impacting our lives. Much of the world's population live in societies controlled by wealthy oligarchs who retain all power to themselves to further benefit and enrich themselves and their close associates. But representative democracy only works if those we elect choose to represent the citizens that put them in office.

The recent legislative session revealed that our Missouri-elected leaders truly represent banks and multinational corporations instead of those who voted them into office. Do you truly believe that a majority of Rep. Dave Griffith's or Sen. Mike Bernskoetter's constituents favor eliminating local controls on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)? CAFOs are not family farms; they are industrialized factory enterprises controlled by large out-of-state, often foreign owned, agri-business corporations.

In hearings, the vast majority who spoke and submitted testimony argued against Sen. Bernskoetter's CAFO-freedom bill. They were concerned citizens, county commissioners and owners of family farms. The few that I heard speak in favor of the bill were bankers and agri-business lobbyist for entities that stand to reap financial benefits of CAFO-freedom let loose upon the land.

Serious concerns expressed about CAFO-freedom were:

Currently, state DNR regulations intended to protect air and water quality from CAFO pollution are not being enforced which jeopardizes the health and safety of citizens;

DNR regulations, even if conscientiously enforced, are inadequate to protect citizen health from risks posed by CAFOs.

No amendments were offered to implement more restrictive DNR CAFO standards or provide greater resources for DNR enforcement. Legislators did listen to objections that CAFOs could have their waste dispersed right up to your property line — now, by law, you have 50 extra feet of breathing space from the stench.

Why is this happening? African swine fever is devastating the Chinese pork industry and prices are climbing. Foreign corporations control most of the pork production market and are looking to grow. Iowa is CAFO saturated with more than 10,000 CAFOs. Power and influence are to be gained in making Missouri a CAFO-state. These CAFO-promoting politicians need to be held accountable for prioritizing other interests over their constituent's health and well-being.