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Press Release

Governor Holden Vetos Disastrous Bill for Family Farms
(For immediate release, July 10, 2003)

Under the guise of being good for the family farmer HB 257 was pushed through without many portions of the bill being heard on the House floor or many legislators knowing what all the changes were.

It is a good thing Governor Holden is paying attention and acted to protect the true family farmers, local communities and our environment," stated Carla Klein, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club.

During the final days of the legislative session corporate agribusiness and their allies in the House and Senate pushed through a bill that would have had devastating effects on Missouri’s family farmers and the environment. HB 257 a disastrous bill that would have rolled back most of the protections groups like the Sierra Club, Missouri Farmers Union, the Rural Crisis Center and County Commissioners have fought so hard for in the past decade.

House Bill 257 removed the requirement for CAFO operators to notify their affected neighbors and authorities of any pollution spills. "All CAFOs—regardless of their size—should be held accountable for the pollution they cause," said Bryce Oates of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, representing over 5,000 family farmers.

The bill would have allowed factory farms with up to 17,499 Hogs or 699,999 chickens to move into communities without any notification to adjacent landowners or County officials. It attempted to remove the right of counties to act to limit these facilities, taking away local county control.

CAFOs concentrate thousands of animals in confined facilities. These facilities concentrate livestock manure into such a small geographical area that they threaten the water, air and soil of the surrounding community. "Because of this structure, factory farms create negative economic, environmental and social impacts on rural communities," said Bryce Oates of the Rural Crisis Center.

"As usual the legislators started out with some good ideas that should have benefited farmers, but by the time the corporate agribusiness lobbyists got done with the bill it ended up being bad for family farmers and stripped environmental protections" Klein concluded.

"It is a shame that the process works this way", added Russ Kremer, President of the Missouri Farmers Union, "the family farmer was used as a poster child by the large agribusiness lobby in an effort to encourage a system that actually forces them out of business. The bill ended up being nothing more than an attempt to exempt highly polluting facilities from any regulations that protect the environment and our communities. Our policies should, instead, encourage the type of agriculture that sustains family farmers and communities while preserving rights of local governance."

Farmers, local Communities and anyone that appreciates clean air and clean water owe Governor Holden their gratitude.

Russ Kremer, Missouri Farmers Union – 573-659-4787

Bryce Oates of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center – 573-449-1336

Carla Klein, Ozark Chapter Director, Missouri Sierra Club