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Posted on Apr. 10, 2007
Springfield News-Leader

Compromise on CAFO Bill is One-Sided

Water protections must come first

We were quite pleased to see the word "compromise" used by Missouri Farm Bureau President Charles Kruse on this page the other day ("CAFO compromise is good for agriculture," April 3 Voice of the Day). Kruse is touting a compromise between supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 364, which would take away the power now invested in counties to regulate large corporate farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Unfortunately, the alleged compromise is ridiculously one-sided.

Kruse and the potentially environmentally damaging CAFOs get a green light to operate in Missouri without the possibility of local interference, and Missouri taxpayers and consumers get a note that says, in effect, "trust us." Once again, the supporters of SB 364 have it backwards.

As we wrote previously in this space, we're not opposed to some of the elements of the bill. Providing clear statewide regulations for an industry as important to Missouri's economy as agriculture makes sense, but only if there are equally clear water protections built in based on regional differences in the state.

The compromise Kruse touts hints at such protections, but we believe he's got the cart before the horse.

Kruse and his corporate farming backers remember, CAFOs are less than 1 percent of Missouri farms say they'll agree to certain new regulations to protect water, odor and other environmental concerns. But they don't spell out those regulations, leaving that task to the Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources after the bill is passed.

That's a recipe for disaster.

So, too, is the part of the compromise that announces some water-resource setbacks, but leaves out any mention of key southwest Missouri waterways such as Stockton Lake.

And what else does the compromise bill do? It adds yet another handout to the corporate farms trying to shove this bill down legislators' throats in the form of tax credits to help them deal with odor problems that they deny exist in the first place.

This lawmaking can be a smelly business. State lawmakers should realize this so-called compromise doesn't pass the common-sense smell test. If Kruse and his partners are so willing to compromise, why did they propose such a bad bill in the first place?

It's time to send them back to the drawing board. Come back next year with firm regulations in place that protect our state's precious water resources. Start the session with a bill that can be supported by the Missouri Association of Counties.

Prove to farmers and consumers all across the state that you're serious about compromise and you'll propose a bill that doesn't gut any and all semblance of local control.

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