Monday, March 08, 2010

Missouri town says no to industrial hog farm, leading farm lobby to seek limits on local control

A small Missouri town has emerged as the center of an legal battle regarding local control of industrialized livestock operations. In 2007, residents of Arrow Rock, Mo., population 79, won a court ruling preventing a farmer who wanted to build a farm with 4,800 pigs on the outskirts of town, Lauren Etter of The Wall Street Journal reports. The ruling also appeared to keep any future applicants at least two miles away from town, but state Attorney General Chris Koster appealed the decision in state court.

"As livestock operations have grown more industrialized, residents across rural America have banded together to try to keep them out," Etter writes. "They say the bigger farms are wreaking havoc on their communities, polluting waterways with manure that can kill fish and sicken people." More communities are using county-level "local control" ordinances that govern where a large farm can locate; more than a dozen Missouri counties have such ordinances.

"In the eyes of the agricultural community, this is starting to spin out of control," Koster, whose appeal has the support of the Missouri Farm Bureau, told Etter. The farmer who was rejected decided to locate his facility elsewhere, but Koster says he needed to appeal the ruling so Missouri had a "unified regulatory structure so that we don't have 500 different zoning units over agriculture." Farm lobbies in Iowa and Ohio have recently defeated emerging local-control movements. (Read more)

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