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Missouri Outlaws Rural Residents’ Last Line of Protection Against CAFOs

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Most CAFOs have chickens, pigs, or cows.

Missouri’s legislature voted this week to prevent counties from passing more stringent laws regulating concentrated animal feeding operations, many of which pose an environmental and public-health risk to their neighbors.

The bill’s sponsors say the law will benefit the state’s agriculture industry, but critics argue the blanket standard will prevent rural communities from using one of the few legislative levers they have left to protect their health and property. Subject to little federal oversight, CAFOs have been allowed to pollute air and water in states like Missouri, lowering property values and harming children’s health.

The State House passed the bill on a party line vote on Tuesday, despite opposition from conservation groups and Democrats. “Why are we so uncomfortable with letting local people decide what happens in their communities?” Democratic Representative Tracy McCreery told the Columbia Missourian.

Republican Governor Mike Parson, who is expected to sign the bill soon, called the vote a win for farming and ranching families, adding that the bill “ensures we keep more food production right here in Missouri, strengthening our No. 1 industry—agriculture.”

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