Friday, May 3, 2019

After an all night session Monday, the Senate passed Sen. Bernskoetter’s Senate Substitute for Senate Bill 391, which deals with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The main language of the bill prohibits counties from enacting what are known as county health ordinances.

County heath ordinances are measures passed by counties to apply stricter locating standards on CAFOs than the already existing state standards implemented and enforced by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). The concept was implemented by approximately twenty mostly rural counties in an effort to spot zone out CAFOs under the guise of health regulation while not implementing broader zoning – which most rural counties don’t favor. The result ranged from differing standards across county lines, which some farms straddle, to entirety eliminating locating farms in some counties.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Missouri and vital to the State’s economic health. SB 391 ensures consistent agricultural regulations across the entire state through the permitting and enforcement standards of MDNR.

Amendments placed on the bill in the Senate also require that wet manure application standards already set by MDNR for CAFO operators on their own property (relating to setbacks from neighbors’ properties, streams and water bodies, etc.) will apply to anyone receiving manure from a CAFO for land application on their own property. The amendments also establish a Joint Committee on Agriculture comprised of Senators and Representatives tasked with evaluating various aspects of agriculture policy. The committee is required to report their findings back to the full legislature each year from 2021 to 2024.

The bill is now in the House where it was first read on Thursday.