Proposed Ordinance Aims to Separate Callaway County Residents and Livestock

Apr 26, 2017

Credit Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

A proposed health ordinance aims to widen areas between residential areas in Callaway County and concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs.

Farms densely packed with livestock create an environment for bacteria and illnesses to cultivate. Often, antibiotics used to keep the livestock healthy end up creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria over time. While this can be spread through traditional contact, waste turned manure also disseminates the bacteria.

Roger Fischer is the western district commissioner for Callaway County, he believes his proposed ordinance will help protect residents and other livestock from health hazards.

“The more distance you keep from the sick person, the less likely it is you are going to catch whatever that sick person had. The same thing applies here,” Fischer said. “The farther the population is from the source which would either be in the CAFO itself or they spread the manure, but the further the source of that bacteria are to humans, the less likely we are going to have any problems with it.”

The required distances would depend on the number of livestock in proportion to farm acreage. CAFOs are classified based on these variables, and these classes would help determine the distance required between two CAFOs or a CAFO and an occupied dwelling.  For example, a Class 1A CAFO cannot be located “within three-fourths of a mile of an occupied dwelling and the setback requirement shall increase by one-fourth of a mile per every 500 animal units” over the initial 7,000 animal units.

The proposed ordinance would apply to new CAFOs in Callaway. The ordinance specifies that “it will in no way affect existing operations nor farmers who have less than 999 animal units.”

Fischer stressed that it isn’t inherently anti-CAFO regulation.

“There is plenty of room for both [CAFOs and populated areas] if we simply anticipate some reasonable future growth and require a minimum distance from potential sources to other livestock and human recreational areas,” according to the drafted ordinance.

“There is no guarantee that these setbacks will keep us all healthy,” Fischer said. “What it does do is give us the benefit of enough distance that it is less likely that we would catch things. That it is less likely that our livestock would catch the same diseases that might develop in the CAFO.”

A similar ordinance passed Monday in Howard County.