On June 8, Gov. Mike Parson held a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 391, eliminating local control, removing the statutory right of counties to protect their citizens through health ordinances, and putting power in the hands of the state government.
The Missouri Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Association, Pork Association and Corn Growers Association all celebrated the taking of Missouri citizens’ rights, which will help create an impenetrable wall of protection for China’s Smithfield Foods and Brazil’s JBS and the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs; factory farms) they want to put next to our homes, farms, water and communities.
Parson was behind SB 391; he, along with most legislators, listened to corporate ag’s lobbyists, not the values and voices of thousands of Missourians.
A recent op-ed by several Missourian experts on water quality (including the former director of DNR’S Water Protection Program and former chairman of the Missouri Clean Water Commission) stated it correctly when they said, “Loss of local control removes the last line of defense for communities that do not want the stench, threats to water supplies and loss of property values that accompany such huge corporate operations.”
Missouri’s rules protecting us from corporate CAFOs are weak at best for the citizens and the environment, thus county health ordinances are necessary.
Emerging scientific consensus of public health research is that CAFOs represent a significant risk to the environment and public health.
The Missouri Legislature continues to support foreign corporate takeover of our food supply, property rights, health and land.
Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and Missouri Corn Growers support this corporate agenda. Is this foreign political influence or irresponsibility in the taking of Missourian’s basic constitutional human rights of “self-determination” and “self-defense?”
Missouri lawmakers are living up to our motto “Let the Welfare of the People be the Supreme Law.” Missouri elected “representatives” have made the foreign-owned corporations the supreme lawmaker.
For example, on the House floor during the debate on Senate Bill 391, Rep. Doug Beck forced a roll call vote on an amendment to stop future foreign corporate ownership of Missouri farmland. Only 5 rural representatives voted for his amendment to stop foreign corporations from owning and controlling more Missouri agricultural land.
Elected politicians — statewide and local — have no greater responsibility than protecting our public health, property rights and open and fair markets.
We need to hold our so-called representatives accountable to us, not multinational foreign corporations and lobbyists that are bent on fouling our water, health, property rights and democracy with their factory farms. Let me be clear: corporate factory farms put independent family farmers out of business and depress rural communities and our economies by suppressing prices paid to farmers and limiting their market access.
Rep. Warren Love made a statement: “If you don’t like the rules, move to the city.” That can work both ways; however, I see another solution. Question your need for Farm Bureau Insurance, rethink your membership in the Cattlemen’s Association and vote out of office those who take your rights away in favor of China and Brazil’s rights.
Darvin Bentlage is a lifelong Missouri farmer and rancher.