Commentary

Missouri Department of Natural Resources sells out to foreign factory farms

February 15, 2021 5:45 am

Hogs are raised on the farm of Gordon and Jeanine Lockie April 28, 2009, in Elma, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I’m an independent Missouri farmer and livestock producer, and JBS, the largest meatpacker in the world and a Brazilian corporation, is attempting to put a 10,500 head hog operation next to my community and the Poosey Conservation Area in Livingston County.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is in the process of giving Missourian’s water rights to industrial-sized Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, commonly called CAFOs, for use as sewers.

DNR is attempting to exclude “perched water” in the definition of groundwater.

Why? It’s because they found perched water on the site where they are trying to build the JBS hog operation, which is getting in the way of them getting their permit approved. Hundreds of people from my area, farmers and rural citizens, are completely opposed to this foreign controlled CAFO fouling our water and air and property rights. In many cases, for many of us the perched water table can be the only freshwater source of groundwater that is reasonably available.

We know how precious our groundwater is, especially in north Missouri.

And, supposedly, so does DNR. They state on their website: “You will find that the groundwater resources of Missouri are not evenly distributed. The amount of usable groundwater is far less in northern Missouri. Only about 12 percent of Missouri’s potable water is found north of the Missouri River.”

DNR’s site goes on to say, “Thus, a resource that many may take for granted in the southern part of the state is considered a precious commodity in the north.”

This begs the question: If we exclude significant sources of groundwater from the regulation of CAFOs, how long will our good, usable and limited water exist?  A year or two?  Ten years?  A generation?

Perhaps decisions should be based on an ancient Iroquois tribe philosophy that decisions we make today should result in an environmentally sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Consider this: A recent study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) states it will cost Iowa taxpayers up to $333 million over the next five years to remove nitrates polluting their drinking water supplies and threatening public health.

The study found that nearly all the violations of the EPA’s nitrate limit in Iowa last year occurred in small, usually rural, water systems. High nitrate levels in drinking water is associated with increased risk of thyroid and bladder cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems.

“Removing nitrates through water treatment is costly for local and state agencies and unaffordable for many private well owners,” said Dr. Rebecca Boehm, the study author and economist at UCS.

Missouri DNR is considering changing the groundwater definition to exclude perched water for CAFOs only.

Shouldn’t all groundwater sources be safeguarded and handled with care, no matter the industry? Missouri DNR will allow CAFOs to pollute our groundwater, but not other industries?

Interestingly, regulations governing solid waste landfills and mines, for example, do not exclude accountability for a perched water table. In fact, it’s a requirement that all groundwater sources are monitored for a year before a decision is made to grant a permit.

Missouri DNR concludes their “managing groundwater” section on their website with this: “With proper management and protection, Missouri’s groundwater resources can continue to provide high-quality water to meet many of the state’s domestic, municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational needs. Avoiding aquifer over-use and protecting groundwater from contaminants are two ways to best ensure its continued availability for future use.”

But let’s conclude with a more succinct quote from Ben Franklin, who obviously understood the Iroquois philosophy of decision making well: “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

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