Coalition Report

By Alicia Lloyd,
Clean Water Policy Coordinator,
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Who is Responsible for Allowing Factory Farms to Pollute Our Air & Water?

Overseeing Missouri’s water-related activities, the Clean Water Commission is a 7 member, governor-appointed citizen’s board. Public representation on the Commission protects our water from being compromised by special interests, but that public oversight has been compromised – due in large part to the influence of the corporate factory farming industry.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), or more commonly – factory farms, are essentially large warehouses filled to the brim with thousands of chickens, pigs, or cows to most efficiently produce cheap meat while maximizing corporate profits. The animals are pumped full of hormones to prevent the spread of disease in these unnatural and unsanitary conditions. Large pits – called lagoons – store a slurry of the exceptional amount of waste the animals produce. A 10,000 head swine CAFO can produce as much waste as a city with a population of 40,000 people.

The environmental threats of these monstrous operations include water pollution when these lagoons leak or overflow into nearby rivers and streams, methane emissions – a potent greenhouse gas – from the waste, and horrendous odor pollution surrounding the facilities. Air pollution emissions are correlated with increased asthma and other respiratory disease rates surrounding these meat production operations.

The Department of Natural Resources in our state has never — to date – denied a permit application for the over 500 CAFOs in Missouri. Citizen groups around the state have organized to oppose proposed CAFOs in response to the threats they pose to their communities’ economies, land values, and public health. When the Clean Water Commission overturned a permit issued to construct a 6,000 swine factory farm in a floodplain, the CAFO industry retaliated by lobbying the legislature to introduce an amendment to unrelated legislation gutting the requirement for public representation on the Commission.

The last week of the legislative session, House Bill 1713, containing the amendment, was passed. The governor’s veto was then overturned during the legislative veto session.

Send a postcard to Governor Greitens urging him to retain seats for public citizens, not special interests, on our Clean Water Commission and check out MCE’s interactive map of permitted CAFOs across the state on our website. Democratic oversight of our water protections is seriously threatened. Missouri’s waters need us more than ever.