What you really need to know about SB364

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dear Editor:

The citizens of Barry County have a right to know more about SB 364 (the bill before Missouri senators and representatives) than what Mr. Kruse told you in last week's letter to the editor. Here are some of the highlights of the bill that he DIDN'T tell you.

Jim and Sharon Riedel, along with many others, have made several trips to Jefferson City over the last six weeks along with people from all over Missouri. It is hard for ordinary people to make these trips and talk to our politicians, they don't have the monies and influence that big business does.

Here is information they have learned that you might not have known and what will happen if this bill is passed:

FACT: The state would take over local county control. The counties couldn't and wouldn't be able to have a say in their county on farm, food and many health issues.

FACT: If a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) infringes on a neighbors' rights, you cannot take legal action. They call this "unjustified nuisance lawsuits."

FACT: Two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per year of taxpayer money would go to CAFOs to help decrease the smell. (They must be admitting that there is air pollution.)

FACT: This is the third time a bill like this has been introduced in the Senate, but it has never been introduced in an election year. I wonder why this is?

FACT: Farm Bureau, Cargill, George's, Tyson, Premium Farms and a few others have supplied the financial support for this bill. If these corporations can do away with the family farmer, they will control the market. (This is the big business part).

This doesn't sound like "a reasonable balance between protecting the rights of farmers and the general public." These are not family farmers by the way; this is big business financing large operations.

"No new Class 1A CAFO." This is nothing, all they have to do is keep a CAFO below that classification.

Mr. Kruse did not explain what is involved in "Managed Environmental Livestock Operation (MELO)", but if it's anything like what the current CAFO's regulations and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) regulations, this will not mean a thing. The DNR has already stated that they have never turned down an application.

"Increased state regulations upon new CAFOs greater that 650 animal units." What does that mean? How many animals is a unit? All they have to do is keep the number under those 650 animal units.

"Creation of a new CAFO Review Board with authority to review and have input on DNR's livestock permits." Review and input doesn't mean that DNR has to go by what is suggested by the Board.

"Authorize tax credits to address odor control issues and others." Is this tax credits for the neighbors that have to put up with the odors or for the big business to get more money from the taxpayers? If it were for the neighbors what good would that do you if you can't breathe? If it's for big business, they don't need it; they make plenty of money at the supermarket and wholesale outlets, and what does "and others" mean? (Again, they must be admitting that there is air pollution).

"Moreover, the health ordinances are not based upon sound science justifying their need beyond the existing state and federal regulations." I can't believe this was even said. You can find hundreds of science reports that say just the opposite on the Internet. This IS a health issue for humans and animals in the waters and in the air. Anyone with emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma will tell you that air pollution is the main trigger to causing their airflow blockage. There are huge fans in CAFOs that are used to blow out of the buildings all the airborne pollutions.

I'm not a college graduate, but I know double talk when I see it. And you are being given only part of the picture and half-truths at the very best.

The CAFO that they want built on Highway F by Roaring River State Park, Roaring River and Table Rock Lake sits on top of a hill. There are small creeks on either side of that hill. When it rains those creeks fill and anything on or under that hill will go right to Roaring River a half mile away. The land is karst meaning it has irregular limestone region with sinks, underground streams and caverns. Karst is mentioned on the Roaring River State Park official website as being in this area.

There are many reports of fish kills, too much nitrogen, phosphorus and arsenic in the watersheds around chicken houses. The rare Williams crayfish is found only in four counties in Missouri; they are not found anywhere else in the world. Roaring River is just one of nine places in these counties where you find them. Under the title Natural Environment on the official Roaring River State Park website it tells you about "the unusual gray-bellied salamander and the rare Oklahoma salamander" only found in this area.

The word "this is an agricultural county" is what we keep hearing from our health department and some county officials. This is also a very big tourist destination county, and it brings in thousands of people and dollars to the area and employs many, many people. They need to be represented too.

It doesn't matter if you have lived here your whole life, 20 years or moved here yesterday, we are all citizens of Barry County and pay our taxes. Big business doesn't live here, they go into what they perceive to be poor counties and pay minimal wages and want to dictate what is built in our back yards.

By the way, Missouri has a Clean Water Commission. It is a seven-member citizens' board that is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. We have one of those seven Commission members right here in Barry County - William Easley, Jr. representing not the agriculture, industry or mining but the general public.


Beverly Sweeney

Eagle Rock, Missouri