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This is a joint press release from Sierra Club  and three farm organizations.
              
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           Contact: Tricia Falter
February 9, 2004             tfalter@missourifarmersunion.org                 573.659.4787
February 10, 2004
Corporate Agriculture Taking Over Missouri

The agricultural agenda for the 2004 legislature session is following in the same footsteps as the 2003 HB257 that Governor Holden vetoed last year. Once again, independent family farmers are being sacrificed as a poster child by large agribusiness lobbing groups in an effort to encourage an agricultural system that actually forces independent producers out of business within the state.

Missouri’s economic and financial status is now in one of the worst situations throughout our history. Yet our elected officials adhere to lobbying efforts by special interest groups that will further erode the fabric that sustains a viable agricultural system, efforts that will further replace independent family farmers, efforts that will sacrifice our environmental values that all Missourians and communities rely upon.

The February 3, 2004 “AG day in the House” declared by the Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway should have been labeled as “flag day at half mast in the House” for Missouri Agriculture and independent family farmers. For the opening of AG day in the Missouri House, a morning breakfast was sponsored not by Missouri Farmers, but rather by corporate conglomerates, Premium Standard Farms, Monsanto, and their side-kick, Missouri Farm Bureau.

Bad legislation to encourage economic development within the state by major corporations is not a trade off for relaxing standing environmental laws or regulations that would jeopardize the safety and health of Missouri’s environment or citizens. Eight years has passed since the last CAFO legislation was passed in 1996. In those eight years our state agencies have commenced to get a handle on the dilemma that was created by the exemption for the raising of swine in three counties in northern Missouri in the 1993 legislative session. Backsliding to reinvent the wheel all over again is not the answer for economic recovery or a stimulus to revive a sustainable agriculture system in Missouri that is vital to “all interests.” Lobbying efforts by special interest groups and industry on the bills listed below will only endanger the future for the remaining family farms in Missouri and jeopardize any existence for a heritage to be passed onto future generations.

Some of the legislative bills being railroaded through by special interest groups in the 2004 “AG Agenda” are, SB-718, HB-978, HB-980, SB-739, SB-1128, HB-1177 and SB-1178. Each of the initiatives in these bills has little, or nothing to do, with sustaining sustainable agriculture or independent family farmers in Missouri. The clear intent behind these bills is to implement regulations that would meet the needs of corporate industry in order that they might monopolize, and profit, from the agricultural heritage Missouri Farmers have proudly pioneered.

Some of the issues within the legislative “AG Agenda” being motivated and driven by corporate agribusiness and its allies are:

The operators of Missouri’s 107,000 farms need real issues addressed to help all of rural Missouri, not just factory farms. Please contact your state legislators and let them know you don’t want laws that weaken protections for the factory farms, but real help for independent farmers. A Senate Hearing will be conducted this Thursday at 8:30 am on SB 1128

Russ Kremer, Missouri Farmers Union 573-659-4787
Terry Spence, Missouri Farmer, Farmers for the Future 660-947-3873
Bryce Oates, Missouri Rural Crisis Center 573-449-1336
Carla Klein, Chapter Director Missouri Sierra Club 573-815-9250