Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce has issued a temporary restraining order that will keep a state law regulating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from going into effect.
Joyce's ruling keeps Senate Bill 391 from going into affect for another 10 days. Had she taken no action, the bill was scheduled to go into affect on Aug.28, as all state laws routinely do that have been signed by the governor after being passed in the legislature.
A hearing on this case is scheduled for Sept. 16.
A lawsuit was filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court, asking Presiding Judge Pat Joyce to grant a temporary restraining order to keep a state law regulating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from going into effect.
Filing the lawsuit were: Cedar County Commission; Cooper County Public Health Center; Friends of Responsible Agriculture out of Fulton; and private citizens Jefferson Jones, of Fulton, and Susan Williams, of Clarksburg.
Named in the lawsuit were: Gov. Mike Parson, Missouri Air Conservation Commission Chairman Gary Pendergrass, Missouri Clean Water Commission Chairwoman Ashley McCarty, the Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association and Missouri Farm Bureau.
Senate Bill 391 — sponsored by state Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, and signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson in May — would prohibit county commissions and county health departments from passing regulations stricter than any state regulations for CAFOs, which are industrial-sized livestock operations.
Under SB 391, a new or expansion of an existing facility would not occur until the Department of Natural Resources had issued an operating permit. CAFO applicants would have to demonstrate to the DNR they can meet several rules and design criteria, and they must prove they are a legal company, provide neighbor notices, meet buffer distances, and provide plans for animal management, manure generation and nutrient management.
SB 391 is scheduled to become law at the end of the month.
Critics of CAFOs said the DNR regulations are not enough to properly protect residents from CAFOs. Missouri now has 500 CAFOs, and if SB 391 is allowed to take effect, critics said it would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of CAFOs.
More than 20 counties in Missouri currently have health ordinances dealing with CAFOs, including Cedar and Cooper counties.
In the lawsuit, the Cedar County Commission and Cooper County Health Department allege SB 391 takes away their pre-existing legal authority to make health ordinances and regulations based on unique circumstances and health needs in their counties. They claim that under the Right-To Farm amendment to the state constitution, passed by voters in November 2014, it was the voters' intent that counties and public health centers had the legal authority to adopt health regulations as long as they didn't conflict with regulations authorized by the Department of Health and Senior Services. They allege SB 391 conflicts with the amendment and that the new law would be unconstitutional and invalid.
The lawsuit alleges the Clean Air Commission considered a petition in September 2017, calling for new rules establishing emission standards from CAFOs. At its Feb. 1, 2018, the commission took no action on the rules and doesn't have any emission standards for CAFOs, the lawsuit alleges.
As of Monday afternoon, court records did not indicate a date had been scheduled for a hearing.