CAFO issue comes before health board

Friday, March 2, 2007

On Feb. 22, several Eagle Rock residents appeared before the Barry County Health Department Board of Trustees to ask the board to enact regulations that would stop the construction of a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) near Highway F between Roaring River State Park and Eagle Rock.

Mark Stephenson, of Joplin, presented the board with information about the proposed operation, photos of a solid waste dumpsite on the property and other information related to the issue. Stephenson's uncle, who suffers from asthma and emphysema, lives near the proposed CAFO site

"This CAFO will have 65,600 chicken that will produce 386 tons of waste, which is equivalent to 6,594 people," said Stephenson. "A town that size is required to have a sophisticated sewage treatment facility in place. A CAFO can just land apply it.

"In addition, this CAFO will produce 8,000 pounds of chicken carcasses annually," said Stephenson. "These carcasses will be stored in a compost shed on the property to rot."

Stephenson said that he had been led to believe that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would take action regarding his concerns about the CAFO. He later learned that DNR has never denied a permit or shut down a CAFO that is causing a pollution problem.

"DNR's only requirements are that a CAFO must be set back 100 feet from a perpetual stream or well and 1,000 feet from an existing residence," said Stephenson. "The entire municipality of Cassville could be surrounded by chicken houses, and there is not a thing you would be able to do about it."

According to Stephenson, 16 other county health department boards have enacted regulations regarding CAFOs. Some counties have placed a surety bond requirement on CAFOs to ensure the city or county is not responsible for the clean-up of an abandoned CAFO, said Stephenson.

"I'm asking you to adopt the regulations that these othercounties have," said Stephenson, "or enact a moratorium on the ones that are trying to build in the area now. Time is of the essence.

"It is not my desire to eliminate CAFOs altogether," said Stephenson. "I just want to make them responsible neighbors for all Barry County citizens and to realize that there are some places they just should not be."

Any spillage at the proposed CAFO will directly pollute either Roaring River or Table Rock Lake, said Stephenson.

"There is a bill in the senate that would establish a five-mile buffer around state parks and historic sites, but that might not pass because it could infringe on private property rights," said Stephenson. " I would hate to see the board sit on their duffs and wait to see if this legislation passes.

"We have to stop this now or there will be others," said Stephenson. "There has been another plot cleared north of the proposed CAFO site that we believe will be the site for another CAFO."

The board tabled the issue in order to review all of the submitted information and complete further research on the issue.

In other business, the Barry County Health Department Board of Trustees:

• Heard that the department has been approved for a $14,000 WIC Enhancement Grant. The funds will be used for website development, advertising and brochures.

• Approved an updated draft of the Barry County Food Service Ordinance.

• Hired Peggy Utter for a cleaning position at the Cassville and Monett offices.

• Heard that the Missouri Institute of Community Health will hold an advisory council meeting in Jefferson City on March 16.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: