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Jim and Ronda Findlay

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

We recently attended lobby day at the state Capitol with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center group, primarily to express our disdain for effort to increase the number of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in our state. Last year, Senate Bill 391 was introduced by Sen. Mike Bernskoetter to reduce or remove the authority of local governments to prevent CAFOs from coming to their area.

These CAFOs, many foreign-owned like China's Smithfield and Brazil's JBS, pack huge numbers of animals into small areas for the sake of pure profit. The waste from these farms creates significant damage to our water tables and nearby streams, and the gases and smell of venting the farm buildings has affected neighbors' health, property values and overall livelihood. Additionally, this inhumane, ecologically disastrous methodology creates an economic environment where the family farmer simply cannot compete.

A lawsuit against SB391 questioning its constitutionality is now in the courts. With the bill's legality in question, our conservative legislators have introduced Senate Bill 699, which will remove local authorities' ability to inspect CAFOs. If a Missouri county was lucky enough to have a health ordinance, local county health agencies and commissions will not be allowed to ascertain if the ordinance is being followed within these CAFOs.

Consider Iowa. After passing a bill like SB391 the state went from a few hundred CAFOs to over 10,000. Missouri's Department of Natural Resources stated they don't have the resources to inspect them. Do we really believe a federal authority can adequately oversee that volume?

These big companies are trying to move to Missouri because of the pollution issues they've created in states like Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Gov. Mike Parsons supports corporate industrial agriculture at the expense of family farmers and our rural communities. It doesn't appear he's really concerned about the impact it will have on the state.

It's up to us to determine which government officials really work for us, their constituents, as they claim. Do they have the citizens' best interests in mind or are they more concerned about pleasing the corporate interests? We need to write letters, visit and make phone calls. Most of all, remember these people on Election Day. Make sure they are held accountable for not having the intestinal fortitude to stand up for us, their constituents. Go to legiscan.com/MO/rollcall/SB391/id/857668 to see the vote on SB391.

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