Industrial agriculture needs to be regulated

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dear Editor:

With interest I read the Feb. 8 letter to the editor from Farm Bureau President Charles Kruse. A few years ago I may have taken his statement that "production agriculture is already regulated heavily at the state and federal level" at face value and believed that was probably so. However, I have now experienced exactly what these "heavily regulated" laws are in relationship to a proposed concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) two miles west of Arrow Rock, a National Historic Landmark village where I live.

The proposed CAFO will have 4,800 hogs, a pit underneath to collect a year's worth of hog waste, and then that waste will be spread on the ground on surrounding farms. The initial cry from residents and visitors to this tourism destination of 150,000 people per year, including 4,000 school children, was, "How could this possibly be allowed?"

Arrow Rock is the birthplace of historic preser-vation and archaeology in the Missouri State Park system. It has two of the 37 National Historic Landmark designations in Missouri, a population of 79 and 14 businesses make their living on tourism.

Imagine our surprise to learn that the "heavily regulated" CAFO not only could be located two miles from Arrow Rock, it could be located within 1,000 feet (less than one-quarter mile) from Arrow Rock, a public building or a residence. (One couple find themselves 1,800 feet from this proposed CAFO). And technically there could be up to 7,499 hogs.

The highest buffer zone is 3,000 feet (less than three-fourths a mile) and that is for 17,500 hogs or more. And that is the level where "heavily regulated" odor control kicks in - 3,000 feet and 17,500 hogs!

Imagine yourself in your home with up to 7,499 hogs one-quarter mile from your door and ask who this "heavily regulated" law protects. By current regulations you shouldn't be worried about odor, health issues, pollution, your personal rights, your quality of life or the value of your property. And now Mr. Kruse says the industrial hog farmer shouldn't be bothered by the possibility that you might file a lawsuit!

The village of Arrow Rock spent 10 years and $485,000 to design and install a wastewater system for the village of 79 people that met the regulations of the Department of Natural Resources. Yet, regulated by the same agency, the waste from 4,800 hogs can be stored for a year in a seven-foot pit and then spread on the ground within 50 feet of a residence or public building. By the way, a hog produces 2.5 times the waste of a human.

Commonsense government action is needed. The Missouri Farm and Food Preservation Act of 2007 should be defeated. Industrial agriculture needs to be regulated as the heavy industry it has become. Adequate regula-tions need to be put in place to protect all citizens not just the one-half of 1 percent of the farmers who operate CAFOs and the corporations that fund them.


Kathy Borgman

Arrow Rock, Missouri