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Posted on Wed, Apr. 11, 2007
The Kansas City Star

Neighbors of animal farms need recourse

Raising a Stink for Local Controls

Neighbors of animal farms need recourse Raising a stink for local controls State Sen. Chris Koster misses the point - possibly on purpose - on why local governments should be able to regulate the stench from hog and poultry farms in Missouri.

The Harrisonville Republican says county health boards shouldn't have the final say over these operations because they don't know anything about agriculture.

But public health is the reason the big animal confinement operations need regulating. The state is doing an inadequate job. Local governments offer the only hope.

The right of the public to breathe clean air, as well as the right of other landowners to protect their property values from pollution from animal wastes, is at stake.

Koster wants to prohibit local governments from passing air and water quality ordinances stricter than state law. About 20 counties have done so. His bill would nullify those ordinances.

Big Pig and Big Chicken often haven't been good neighbors. The smell wafting over the countryside can be intolerable. Waste lagoons have ruptured and spilled sewage into rivers and streams, or surrounding property.

In cases where local governments don't have strong ordinances, the courts have been a place to seek relief. Unfortunately, Koster's bill would do away with the right to sue the big operators, too.

Local governments are unlikely to discourage agricultural production that follows the rules, but they need the right to set those rules. Koster's bill is plainly hogwash.

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