Missouri state lawmakers are considering bills clamming to protect farmers.

Press Release from Missouri News Service

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two bills in the Missouri Legislature are being promoted as ways to protect the family farmer, However, opponents say the bills smell foul because property owners’ rights are at stake.

The bills could allow large hog farms to move next to family farms and leave the little guy little recourse to address any negative impacts of a concentrated animal-feeding operation, or CAFO, opponents say. Tim Gibbons, spokesman for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, says the bills would severely limit the rights of property owners – and not just those in rural areas.

“It reminds us of eminent domain and the misuse of eminent domain – and being able to blight somebody’s property without just compensation.”

Sponsors of the bills say the legislation would limit the number of frivolous lawsuits filed against livestock-production facilities. The sponsors of each bill – Sen. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, for SB 187 and Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, for HB 209 – live in northern Missouri, where Premium Standard Farms, the world’s largest pork producer, operates.

Opponents such as the Missouri Coalition for the Environment say the bills would protect corporate agri-business over the family farmer – or as Gibbons puts it, a small number of regulated CAFOs compared with the tens of thousands of family farming operations in Missouri.

“This bill is protecting those 500 operations. That’s one-half of one percent at the expense of 100,000-plus farming operations and farm families in our state.”

Both bills now move into a committee in the opposite chamber.