Laws clamping down on local representatives’ ability to regulate large livestock operations in Missouri are now in effect.
The highly-debated laws that determine who can regulate concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs, had been stayed by court order, preventing them from taking effect. But Cole County judge Dan Green lifted that court order this week. Local elected representatives will not be able to pass any laws stricter than state laws that regulate industrial sized farms.
Proponents of the law say it will help boost Missouri’s agriculture sector. But some say that the decrease in local control could mean an increase in commercial farms run by out-of-state companies coming in, hurting local farmers.
“Local elected representatives are most able to react to the needs of their constituents, of the people that they're there to represent and to protect,” Tim Gibbons, from the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, said. “And that's why local control is so important.”
Gibbons said he wants to make sure that Missouri doesn’t see an increase in CAFOs like Iowa did, as the state now deals with hundreds of impaired waterways and an excess of CAFO-produced waste.
Jeff Jones, a cattle farmer in Calloway County, said that with a lack of local control, there could be many larger corporations coming into Missouri that won’t be held accountable.
“If it's harder to hold them accountable, that's going to basically give them a free for all in our counties,” Jones said. “So, we've got to make sure that local control can do right, so that the CAFOs and the people can live in harmony together.”
Jones said he believes the new CAFO laws are unconstitutional because they take away the voice of the people.
The new law is not retroactive, so any laws previously in place from local officials will still stand.