Life, as Cedar County residents and Stockton Lake lovers know it, is at risk. Along with all other rural counties in Missouri, we face a common threat to our health and our environment, guaranteed by Senate Bill 391. It disembowels local authority of county commissions and health departments to protect the health and welfare of rural families and communities from the negative impacts of corporate controlled industrial livestock operations, including foreign-controlled CAFOs.
CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) create millions of gallons of waste, dead animals, decreased property values and degradation of our water, soil and air.
Despite outcry from rural landowners, independent family farmers and city dwellers across the state, 22 of our 23 Republican Senators voted to pass SB 391 out of the Senate. Our Republican Gov. Parson celebrated breaking the filibuster to pass it. Gov. Parson did not consult our county commissioners about the impact of this bill on our county and our lives. Neither did our Republican Sen. Crawford, District 28; and none of Cedar County’s three Republican representatives in the House (Warren Love, District 125; Ann Kelley, District 127; and Mike Stephens, District 128). Our county commission opposes the bills. Missouri state CAFO regulations offer no protection. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources offers no protection.
Few people in Cedar County know anything about SB 391 and the other two bills introduced to end local control of CAFOs by a different means, SB 133 and House Bill 951. A couple of weeks ago, when it looked like the people’s voices might actually prevail and defeat SB 391 in the Senate, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association hired five new lobbyists and the Missouri Pork Association hired two new lobbyists. Shortly afterward, SB 133 and HB 951 were introduced with language explicitly prohibiting county commissioners and health department officials from inspecting or enforcing rules regulating CAFOs where they live. Numerous amendments have slowed these two bills, but they are still in play, too.
Whether these bills pass or not, Cedar County residents and lake visitors have the right to know more about them and the implications for our lives. Sharing information is a democratic practice and core to our way of government. Due to the unexpected uncertainty associated with SB 391 five days before the 100th session of the Missouri General Assembly ends, the forum originally planned for the week of May 20 is postponed until early June. Watch this space for more information.
Cheryl Y. Marcum
Cedar County native and landowner