Springfield, MO

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City Council backs new state CAFO bill

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Springfield City Council last night heard a resolution from Councilmen Mike Schilling and Andrew Lear to object to the passage of Missouri Senate Bill 391 regarding the restriction of local control of concentrated animal feeding operations. It ultimately failed.


“The intent is to underscore a concern about undermining local control in a very critical way with the confinedanimal feeding operations, which is receiving a lot of attention throughout the nation, especially with hog production and how much sewage they create,” Schilling said.

SB 391 prohibits county commissions and health center boards from imposing standards or requirements stricter than the state’s regulations for concentratedanimal feeding operations, dubbed CAFOs.

Lear said a number of constituents brought the issue to him, leading him and Schilling to sponsor the local resolution. They say the resolution carried no legislative weight but was made to show concern from Springfield representatives that they opposed the state’s decision.

Schilling said the state Clean Water Commission denied an application for a hog CAFO in north central Missouri a few years ago.

“In the wake of that, the forces for industrial hog production put pressure on to restructure the commission to take away public members and put on people from special interests,” Schilling said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed SB 391 into law in August, though a previous House of Representatives bill, HB 1713, also drew criticism from the public speakers at the council meeting. HB 1713, passed in 2016, authorized the Clean Water Commission to restructure.

Todd Parnell, a Springfield resident and former banker,addressed council with an up-close perspective. He served on the Missouri Clean Water Commission for 10 years and was chairman for two and a half years.

“I saw a steady erosion of state protections and regulations,” he said of CAFOs, citing an example from 2015, when the legislature removed the construction permit requirement and proof for financial liability for CAFOs. “It basically hamstrung the Clean Water Commission in terms of enforcing any regulations. Now, you didn’t have to prove your construction plan made sense.”

Prior to the passage of HB 1713, four of the seven members had to be public representatives,Parnell said.

“They eliminated that requirement,” he said.

Four individuals addressed City Council in favor of Lear’s resolution. It failed by a 5-4 vote, with Councilmen Lear, Schilling, Abe McGull and Craig Hosmer voting in favor.

Mayor Ken McClure opposed the city resolution, pointing to SB 391’s overwhelming support in the House and Senate. The bill passed by margins of 103-41 in the House and 23-11 in the Senate.

“Passing this resolution, in my opinion, will not help our community and may well hurt it,” McClure said. “This is not about making our lawmakers upset; it’s about working with them to not make it more difficult to do their jobs in representing our community.”


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The Missouri legislature continues to intrude into affairs of local governmental units, taking away local controls. Cedar County, home to Stockton Lake and a primary source of Springfield's water supply, enacted controls against CAFOs and their inherent potential for water pollution, only to have those restrictions removed by the legislature's overreach in its support of CAFOs.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
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