Commissioners to consider CAFO health ordinance
At their regular weekly meeting Monday, Aug. 19, the Ozark County Commissioners will consider enacting a health ordinance regarding concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs, in Ozark County. The proposed ordinance comes in response to Missouri Senate Bill 391, which bars counties from passing regulations that are stricter than or contradictory to state-level CAFO regulations. After discussing the issue at their Aug. 19 meeting, the commissioners are expected to vote on the ordinance at the Aug. 26 meeting. Weekly commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. on the second floor of the Ozark County Courthouse.
Opponents of the law argue that statewide standards for CAFOs are not sufficient to prevent water and air pollution or loss of property value in the surrounding area. There is also concern that these large operations, some of which are owned by foreign corporations, hurt independent family farms. State Rep. Karla Eslinger and State Sen. Mike Cunningham both voted in favor of the bill, which was signed by Gov. Mike Parson and will officially become law on Aug. 28.
According to literature from the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a non-profit farmer organization, “Health ordinances are the only avenue rural counties have to put in place any safeguards to protect the health and welfare of rural families and communities from CAFOs.” Because the new law is not retroactive, counties have until Aug. 28 to pass health ordinances that suit local needs.
Ozark County Western District Commissioner Greg Donley said the commission will probably hear from local producers who are concerned about their operations. However, locally owned family farms are unlikely to be affected, he said, because the Missouri Department of Natural Resources defines a CAFO as one that “confines, stables or feeds” more than 2,500 swine, 100,000 broilers chickens, 700 dairy cows or 1,000 beef steers for 45 days or more in a 12-month period where “a ground cover of vegetation is not sustained over at least 50 percent of the confinement area.”