On the West County Dems discussion group, Susan Cunningham had the lowdown on Koster’s attempt to prevent local jurisdictions from protecting themselves when hog farms moved nearby.

When I read that Sen. Chris Koster was switching from Repug to Dem, I remembered that I had seen that name over and over somewhere, so I looked in my “legislative report” file. He’s the CAFO guy ! I have been following the environmental bills for our WCD leg reports for two years and the “confined animal feeding operations” bill was one of the stinkiest pieces of legislation brought to the Missouri General Assembly. Basically, Koster’s bill would have made it impossible for local jurisdictions to protect the health of their residents or the cleanliness of their natural surroundings.

This is the bill description taken from the General Assembly web site: “SB 364 – Prohibits counties from enacting public health ordinances addressing farming activities and exempts farms and farming activities from suits of trespass in certain circumstances.  SCS/SB 364 – This act prohibits any county public health order, ordinance, rule, or regulation from applying to agricultural operations. The act protects farms and farming-related activities from suits of nuisance or trespass for any condition resulting from, but not limited to, the acts of planting, cultivating, harvesting, mowing, applying pesticides or herbicides, land clearing, livestock management, or construction of farm roads, lakes, and ponds.”

I also found an article in my “leg file” from the Post Dispatch dated Feb 1, 2007, entitled “A big stink brews in a small town.” It was about the Mo town of Arrow Rock, whose residents were up in arms because an ag company wanted to put a 4,800 hog farm two miles from the town which depends largely on tourism to survive. (I wonder how that case turned out?) The article goes on to say that Gov. Matt Blunt called on legislators to pass a comprehensive bill that would give the state more oversight and “protect farmers….” Sen. Koster was more than happy to do Blunt and Big Pig’s bidding. “These (local) health ordinances are an end-run that have circumvented state principles,” Koster said. “Agriculture is primary to our economy and our regulations should be uniform, border to border.”

Anyone who has been following the problems created by the WTO and other “free trade” groups will recognize the hidden agenda here. Top-down control by a powerful few and loss of local control. This is about as undemocratic as you can get. Sen. Koster has a LONG way to go to learn what it means to be a Democrat. He may be trying to catch a train that has already left the station.

Susan Cunningham