Will Howard County Commissioners regulate CAFOs?

A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO is proposed for northern Howard County.  Howard County has been chosen as an ideal site for the CAFO for one main reason;  Howard County does not have a Health Ordinance setting guidelines for large-sized animal farms.
For those not familiar with a swine CAFO and how they operate, a background is needed.  Sows (female swine) live in a “pen” with room to stand up or lay down.  They are Artificially Inseminated (AI), and approximately a month after the litter is born the sow receives another AI and the process continues.  Piglets are raised on site to a certain weight with some kept as future producers and some shipped out of state and sold.
CAFOs are not limited to swine.  Chickens and cattle are other samples of livestock raised in CAFOs.
The proposed CAFO would house approximately 5,500 sows, 320 nursery pigs less than 40 lbs, and 1,600 swine over 55 lbs, for a total of more than 7,000 animals in a 20 acre facility.
The Howard County Commissioners have held two public meetings to hear from the residents of Howard County and anyone interested in this project.  At the first meeting on Friday, Apr. 14, there was an audience of 25 citizens voicing their opinions to and asking questions of the Commissioners.  Only two of the three County Commissioners were present to hear their concerns.  Commissioner Conrow was noticeably absent, which was unfortunate considering how many questions were posed during the meeting.
Fortunately, Commissioner Conrow was able to join his colleagues for the Tuesday Apr. 18 meeting, because the crowd had grown to more than 30, with only a portion of those attending both meetings.
Many Howard County residents are concerned about the addition of a CAFO to the area.  Arguments for the project are approximately 15-17 jobs to be brought to the county; tax revenue of approximately $20-25,000 with approximately two-thirds of that to go to the Fayette School District; additional revenue for Howard Electric Cooperative.  Those opposed to the CAFO are concerned about declining property values, odor, and soil and water contamination.  Both sides have answers for the others’ points.
The only way to come to an ‘middle ground’ is to allow the CAFO providing specific guidelines for which to adhere; a Health Ordinance.  Multiple counties in the state have a health ordinance.  Counties that don’t only have guidelines from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR or DNR) which are very relaxed.
A Health Ordinance is not a document to prevent CAFOs, simply to set boundaries for their operations, as other businesses are required.  To ensure the organization operates the same way from day one.  One resident in attendance, Joe Hardy stated, “If you want to have a CAFO, abide by the ordinance.”
The company managing the project, Pipestone Systems, has made promises to be environmentally and neighbor friendly.  Neighbors in other counties have different views.  Both Grundy and Callaway County have been battling Pipestone Systems for different reasons.  In Grundy County, Pipstone plans to place a CAFO in a flood plain, stating the area is not a flood plain, despite the fact it floods regularly.  Callaway County’s concern is pollution of the water table and the devaluation of property values.
A Health Ordinance protecting the county and its residents is needed.  The ordinance would protect all of Howard County.  Where the operation could be placed, how large it could become and how much manure it would put in one location.  Once one CAFO moves in, more historically follow.  While one operate ethically, others may not.
The commissioners have been considering a Health Ordinance for more than a year, but have yet to make a decision.  Presiding Commissioner Stroupe made a motion after Tuesday’s meeting to approve an ordinance, but Commissioners McMillan and Conrow stated they needed to time to think.  They plan to made a decision Friday, Apr. 21.
Contact your commissioner, or each of the commissioners if you want to share your opinion.

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