We need Local Control, not corporate control. Why?

Corporate Ag and their public relations and campaign firms want us to believe that Missouri family farms are the same as corporate factory farms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that corporatization, industrialization and vertical integration of the livestock industry through corporate factory farms puts independent family farms out of business. One example is the hog industry, where in just one generation 90% of Missouri’s independent hog producers were put out of business (23,000 in 1985 to 2,600 in 2017).

This is why Local Control is so important.

Corporate agri-business and their lobbyists would rather have decisions being made where their money and lobbyists have the biggest impact—at the state and federal levels of government.

For over 15 years, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Missouri family farmers, county commissioners and rural citizens stood up, fought back and won against industrial Ag’s attempts to abolish Local Control and strip rural counties and local elected representatives from their ability to protect us, our health, water, air and property rights from corporate industrial livestock operations (concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs).

Health ordinances are the only avenue rural counties have to put in place ANY safeguards to protect the health and the welfare of rural families and communities from CAFOs. The Missouri Department of Natural Resource’s CAFO rules are completely insufficient and cannot protect rural communities, family farmers and land owners.

Why Local Control?

Local Control is the difference between over 10,000 CAFOs in Iowa with over 700 significantly polluted bodies of water, and 500 CAFOs here in Missouri. Missouri also has the second largest number of family farms in our country. 

Numerous CAFO corporations are targeting counties throughout Missouri. In a public meeting in Cooper County, a representative for Pipestone Systems, LLC (an out-of-state CAFO corporation that also raises hogs in China) said they are moving to Missouri because we are a “clean state”, meaning we don’t have the livestock disease and water problems associated with CAFOs (i.e. Iowa and southern Minnesota).

CAFOs make up only 1/2 of 1% of Missouri’s farming operations. Our elected representatives should be working to pass laws that support the vast majority of farming operations in Missouri, not a minority of corporate and foreign controlled CAFOs. 

The taking of Local Control is one of corporate Ag’s needed puzzle pieces in the move to industrialize the cattle industry, along with policies like the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and killing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Missouri has 50,000 independent cattle producers, we should be working together to protect and foster markets for Missouri’s cattle farmers, and work to stop the corporate takeover of the cattle industry instead of fueling it with laws that take away Local Control.

The sad truth is that Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources will not and cannot protect us. Politics, special interests and policies have made Missouri have some of the weakest rules to protect us from CAFOs in the entire country. For example:

  • Current state standards allow up to 17,499 hogs within 2,000 feet of a residence, and an unlimited number of animals can be located 3,000 feet from a residence.
  • According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A CAFO (17,500 hogs+) can generate as much waste as the city of St. Louis. 
  • There are ZERO air quality standards for CAFOs with less than 17,500 hogs, 7,000 cattle or 875,000 chicken broilers.
  • There are NO state setback requirements between CAFOs and populated areas.
  • CAFOs no longer have to obtain construction permits.
  • CAFOs waste can be spray-applied 50 feet from your property line, 300 feet from a drinking water well or spring, and 150 feet from a public use area.

This is why 22 rural Missouri counties have passed common sense health ordinances to protect their communities from the negative impacts of corporate-controlled CAFOs, including simple setbacks from homes, populated areas, wells and water sources. Many of these ordinances have been in place for decades protecting family farmers, property owners and citizens that have lived there for generations.

CAFO corporations and their lobbyists have zero allegiance to our state and country. Most CAFOs are controlled by entities that are not even based in Missouri and many aren’t even American. Two foreign corporations control 49% of the pork in our country, Smithfield (China) and JBS (Brazil).

In 2013, the Missouri legislature changed a law from outlawing foreign entities from owning Missouri farmland to allowing them to own and control 1% of Missouri farmland (1% of Missouri farmland=289,000 acres). A month later, Smithfield Foods, was bought by a Chinese corporation that now controls over 25% of U.S. pork and owns over 40,000 acres of MO farmland.  Currently foreign corporations own 44,070 acres have been applied to the 1% cap—this leaves 244,930 acres available to be owned by foreign corporations.

Senate Bill 391

Unfortunately, this year the Missouri legislature passed and Governor Parson signed Senate Bill 391 in an attempt to take away Local Control and the right of rural counties to pass future CAFO health ordinances. 

Literally, thousands of Missourians from all over the state took action to stop Senate Bill 391 and support Local Control. Everyone in the Capitol building, including legislators, knew that the vast majority of their constituents and Missourians were opposed to Senate Bill 391, but they passed it anyway–at the behest of corporate special interests and their lobbyists. 

Senate Bill 391 is an attack on our fundamental rights as citizens to have government that is closest to the people. We need to make a stand for local control and independent family farms, not out-of-state and foreign corporate factory farms. This is NOT a partisan issue–the vast majority of Missourians, rural and urban, Republican and Democrat, believe that government is best when it’s closest to the people.

  • Senate Bill 391 takes away Local Control from Missouri’s rural counties, stopping local citizens and local elected representatives from creating protections from out-of-state and foreign industrial livestock operations.
  • Thousands of Missourians took action, from all over the state—Democrats and Republicans, rural and urban—generating tens of thousands of emails and phone calls into legislators to stop Senate Bill 391. 
  • Senate Bill 391 does not nullify current county health ordinances. Statutes are generally construed to operate prospectively unless the legislature specifically says in the new law that the statute has a retroactive effect.
  • Some Senators organized a 12-hour filibuster, which lasted throughout the night. During the filibuster a few good amendments were added to the bill, but none, in any way, are a replacement for Local Control.

Senate Bill 391 is state governmental overreach at its worst. People who live in our communities know what’s best for our communities, not corporate lobbyists, bureaucrats and politicians.

Fortunately, brave Missouri family farmers and local elected representatives currently have a lawsuit against the state of Missouri arguing that Senate Bill 391 is unconstitutional.   

Who Supports Senate Bill 391?

The organizations that support Senate Bill 391 are the same groups that have historically supported pro-corporate policies at the expense of family farmers and rural communities for far too long.

  • First, corporate Ag front groups worked to kill country of origin labeling (COOL), which allowed consumers to know and be able to choose American meat over foreign imports.
  • Then they led the charge to force MO beef producers to pay an additional mandatory beef tax of $2 million every year. But, Missouri cattle farmers stood up to this attack and voted it down by 75% to 25%.
  • These same groups testified in a Missouri House Agriculture Committee for allowing foreign corporations to own and control Missouri’s farmland.

Unfortunately, these same groups also fully supported the corporatization of the pork industry and the results have been devastatingly clear. In just one generation:

  • 90% (over 20,000) of Missouri’s hog producers are out of business.
  • Consumers are paying 121% more for pork.
  • And, TWO foreign corporations now control half of the entire U.S. hog industry.

This corporate controlled system drives people away from rural Missouri and puts farmers out of business and off the land. We can’t afford any more of their corporate model and vision for the future of agriculture and our state.

Enough is Enough: We need Local Control, not corporate control

With the passage of Senate Bill 391, the state government and corporate Ag lobbyists took away our rights and the only way we have to protect ourselves from unaccountable, absentee and foreign corporations that are bent on controlling our food supply and making profits at any cost.

Senate Bill 391 is an attack on our fundamental rights as citizens to have government that is closest to the people.

We need to make a stand for local control and independent family farms, not out-of-state and foreign corporate factory farms.

We need local control, not corporate control—our future depends on it.