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Missouri DNR causes a stink after shutting down attempt to rein in hog farm odors

Missouri DNR causes a stink after shutting down attempt to rein in hog farm odors

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General Views Of Pig Farming At A Lehmann Bros. Farm LLC

Five month-old pigs, nearing their desired market weight, stand in a weaning-to-market barn at Lehmann Brothers Farms LLC in Strawn, Ill., in a 2012 file photo.  Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

JEFFERSON CITY • The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has blocked an attempt to rein in emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations in the state. 

In September, Missouri residents submitted petitions to the state, asking the Air Conservation Commission to issue new rules requiring owners of the feeding operations, known as CAFOs, to prepare odor control plans and limit hazardous emissions if the CAFO is within a mile of a school, residence or church.

Along with their petitions, the residents presented two affidavits from scientists attesting to the harmful health effects of emissions from the operations, which include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.

Missouri's so-called "Odor Rule" for CAFOs only applies to the state's largest operations. The petitioners said planned CAFOs in Grundy, Callaway and Lewis counties would not trigger the rule because they would not house enough livestock.

"All are located close to residential areas, all generate massive quantities of hog manure and wastes, and all will generate significant unregulated odorous emissions," one petition said.

In a Nov. 22 letter to Stephen Jeffery, an environmental lawyer who represents residents opposed to CAFOs, Kyra L. Moore, DNR's air pollution control director, said that the agency would not allow the proposed regulations to go into effect.

Moore said a 2007 working group had already considered the odor rule, that there are already other rules on the books regulating all CAFOs, and that new rules would adversely impact smaller operations.

Jeffery said the affidavits and other information the group submitted were not available in 2007, that no current regulations address odor from smaller CAFOs, and that the out-of-state corporations which tend to own the farms could absorb the cost of the new regulations.

Jeffery and Jeff Jones, of Friends for Responsible Agriculture, also said that the DNR's staff was undercutting the role of the Air Conservation Commission by blocking the rule.

Connie Patterson, DNR's spokeswoman, said that while the agency is opposed to the changes, the air commission could take up the petitions. Its next meeting is Dec. 7.

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