Protecting big business at any cost
August 19, 2007
It's no surprise that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is looking the other way as the rampant CAFO industry charges ahead to do what it likes, regardless of public will, input, or interest. Even though CAFOs are less than 1/2 of 1% of Missouri's farming operations (fewer than 500 out of about 106,000), they're clearly the "tail that wags the dog." They are part of the stranglehold that the Farm Bureau has on Missouri politics.

That may be changing (with the defeat of Koster's anti-local-control SB 364 this last legislative session), but not fast enough.

These are my outraged comments in response to what the DNR's director recently had said in print:

I have read the pathetic explanation DNR Director Doyle Childers just wrote (Cassville Democrat,"Commentary," 9/17/07) attempting to explain why their department is ignoring citizen concerns about the impact the Ozbun's chicken CAFO is likely to have on Roaring River State Park.

We in Arrow Rock have heard similar lame excuses, to the effect that DNR has no choice but to permit such monstrosities as long as it is claimed that the manure run-off won't get into the public water-supply -- a long-shot gamble where we all lose if the claim proves wrong.

As we said in a public hearing for another factory-farm operation (4800 adult swine) proposed for 1.9 miles from our State Park at Arrow Rock, DNR has forgotten its mission to protect our parks. It was not created to be the agent for mega-agribusiness.

We quoted to them from the State of Missouri's Official Manual that DNR "preserves, protects and enhances Missouri's natural, cultural and energy resources... for present and future generations," and that its staff "works to ensure that our state enjoys clean air to breathe, clean water for drinking and recreation," and that they "take seriously [their] responsibility of stewardship to protect and enhance the environment in which we work and live."

However, when it comes to prefering CAFOs over providing for the rest of us, DNR fails this mission miserably. They have NEVER turned down a permit, and bend over backwards to help CAFO operators avoid public sanction.

The other "little secret" that Childers is ignoring is the fact that he is the State's "Chief Historic Preservation Officer." The Department of Interior (National Park Service) is gravely concerned about what actions he will take to protect the Registered National Landmark of Arrow Rock, as required by federal law. Childers has sat on his hands, although we urged him "to take a more proactive and assertive role to protect our Park and the public which uses it, and the cultural resources that are in and around Arrow Rock".

A hogfarm next door to Arrow Rock makes no more sense than a cellphone tower next to Mount Vernon or a racetrack next to Monticello... or 65,000 chickens next to Roaring River!

Missouri's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation seems to agree with us, and the State Parks Advisory board has expressed its concern about incompatible intrusions.

When will Childers actually listen to his legitimate advisors, rather than the Governor's office and the Farm Bureau? Will it take a change of leadership starting at the top to get citizen rights protected, so we can enjoy our parks without the plague of manure from factory farms?

David H. Finke,
Arrow Rock, MO

(Reprinted from the Cassville Democrat of 8/18/07)

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Break the Chainsnosmokes110402007-08-20 15:01:50