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Dear Editor:

Missouri SB 391 will throw open the doors to a stampede of corporate-backed CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) across the state. CAFOs are industrial agricultural operations containing thousands of animals. Many are foreign controlled by corporations in China or Brazil, with no stake in the well-being of Missourians. The stench and toxic pollution of the untreated waste fouls the air and water, running down property values and local economies, sickening and forcing neighbors off their land.

We can see what has happened in states like Iowa and North Carolina that passed similar laws earlier: Ten thousand CAFOs, each producing a larger volume of untreated waste than comparable human populations, now pollute Iowa's air and waterways. Pits designed to hold thousands of gallons of raw manure pose a significant risk of catastrophic overflow from heavy rains and flooding. When spills reach waterways, decomposition consumes dissolved oxygen, killing aquatic life. The historic rains that flooded millions of acres of Midwestern cropland this spring flushed vast amounts of fertilizer and manure into waterways, triggering a potentially massive season of algae blooms.

When Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina last year, CAFO farmers faced staggering financial losses and likely bankruptcies. Corporations have driven out many independent farmers; who now serve as contractors to industry giants like Smithfield and Tyson. Farmers have little power in those contracts, since the Trump administration's USDA removed protections against corporate exploitation.

SB 391 is now on hold following a ruling by Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. It temporarily protects a regulation passed by the Cooper County Health Board, limiting dangerous gas emissions and banning underground manure tanks on karst topography. A number of other counties are also considering local ordinances.

Please call the Cole County Commission at (573) 634-9100 and urge them to pass a local health ordinance to protect Cole County from the worst impacts of this new law. DNR regulations do not protect against the damage done by Missouri's current approximately 500 CAFOs.

The rise in industrial Ag operations has already seen a steep decline in the number of family farms across the Midwest, running down the economies and populations of rural towns. As elaborated in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, "Is Missouri's Agricultural Law Being Rewritten In Hong Kong?" CAFOs benefit industrial Ag corporations at the expense of Missouri farms and towns!

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