Shafting of the small farmer
April 16, 2007
Pork and beans: It's all about CAFOs

by James (Rich) Lawson

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking though a glass darkly and understand the facts about Senate Bill #364. Many have been drawn down the path of:

  1. “it stinks-it doesn’t stink

  2. if you plant a few miracle shrubs around it you won’t smell it

  3. if we don’t get SB#364 passed all our good Missouri farmers will move to Brazil

  4. the fecal toxins collected in a seven-foot deep pit that eventually will be spread on farm fields near streams and water supplies won’t contaminate because it’s drilled into the ground

  5. there isn’t any research that shows dangerous pathogens are spewed into the air around CAFO operations

  6. Missouri’s county health organizations are just run-of-the-mill hillbillies that have no scientific education and don’t know a good pathogen from a bad pathogen and certainly have NO BUSINESS trying to control the health in their home counties

  7. Missouri taxpayers should pay millions in support of big business opening CAFOs

  8. the DNR is the authority that will protect your health

  9. all the farming community supports SB #364

  10. and the Farm Bureau is the voice of Missouri’s farmers.

    Well, let’s look at the net effect of mass producing pork or any other commodity. This is not rocket science, it’s the first lesson you learn as a farmer...else you won’t be a farmer long. Every Senator on Missouri’s Agriculture Committee should know this simple law: The more pork that's produced the less large food corporations will pay for it.

    One lesson we learned in the 1970s and ‘80s was “too many pigs cause farmers to go bankrupt." During that time we witnessed a push for huge pork farms. Banks couldn’t loan money fast enough; wanna-be hog farmers couldn’t build fast enough.

    Guess what? We produced a huge number of pigs. Guess what? Big corporate food buyers cried, “supply and demand; we’re going to pay a lot less for these plentiful pigs.” Guess what? They paid less and farmer after farmer filed bankruptcy.

    We have few Senators old enough to remember that...maybe one...and he appears to be leading the charge for SB#364.

    Farm Bureau should remember it. Why is Farm Bureau so concerned about enacting this “kill local control” bill? Why did a Senator tell me that all farming issues belong to the Farm Bureau, and if you don’t vote with them you probably won’t get re-elected? Isn’t that a bit too much power with one organization? It causes me to envision sinister Senator scenarios.

    Here’s the deal: There are about 106,000 Missouri farmers. About 530 are CAFO farms. That’s about half of one percent. A Senator told me the half of one percent is more important than the 105,470 other neighborly farmers because they control production.

    Well, if there are two voters (husband and wife) at each CAFO farm, that’s about 1,060 votes. If there are two voters at each of the rest of the neighborly farms that’s about 210,540 votes.

    Neighbor’s time you exercise your muscle. Call your Senator, your Representative, the Governor and Farm Bureau and tell them if they don’t represent you properly, you AREN’T going to take your FARM somewhere else, but you surely may take your VOTE elsewhere.

    Final thoughts:

    Big business wants Missouri farmers to believe they’re going to be protected from lawsuits. Well, where do you think most of these CAFO farms are going to locate? They’re going to be next door to another farm...and only required to be a few hundred feet away from the nearest farm door. Well, who is looking out for the rank and file farmer in this scenario?

    To rub salt in the wound the so-called compromise bill will require millions of your tax dollars to facilitate these CAFOs, or simply put, make YOU pay for parts of the CAFO facility, ruin your land values, and take away your legal rights. Counties that have CAFO farms have already recorded decreases in values of real estate. It’s a fact!

    Senators, do you really want to vote for giving up local control and against the voters' constitutional rights all in the name of helping the mega-food corporations?

    The success of our current AG related economy in Missouri is the result of the 105,000 existing, hard working neighbor farms, not CAFOs. These farmers are not moving to Brazil. Why don’t you do something to help them?...They are our present AG economy!

    CAFOs take money out of the state. Why should we agree to spend our tax dollars to build them, and then send the profits to absentee owners in some other state?

    Those legislators in favor of the bill, you can disseminate all that information from Farm Bureau and the food giants like it’s gospel. But, your contituents can easily see that you’re favoring big business over your back home neighbor farmers. Big business may buy a lot of your votes up on the hill, but you may be set for a rude awakening when you challenge our votes and our great Missouri family farms.


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