Missouri should remain a leader in science-based regulations to protect animal welfare and the environment. DNR’s tight regulations for animal operations have proven effective over many years. Nonscientific county-by-county rules harm local food producers and weaken rural communities. These harmful rules should not override DNR’s effective and science-based regulations.
Healthy animals and a healthy environment are top priorities for Missouri farmers and ranchers. The best way to keep our air and water clean and ensure our animals are treated well is to support science-based environmental and animal health regulations. Reactionary, non-expert regulations do not allow animals to be raised locally and in the best environment for their health and safety. They can backfire and harm the environment more than if we followed expert guidance and regulations. When we follow the rules and manage our farms well, it results in a better rural economy for farmers and the entire community.
In 2019, the Missouri legislature passed and Governor Parson signed into law Senate Bill 391. This new law ensures animal agriculture regulations will be governed by the Department of Natural Resources, not a patchwork of unscientific county rules. Missouri law now prohibits county health ordinances that are “inconsistent with or more stringent than” Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ regulations. Some counties have brought suit against the state seeking permission to retain their old ordinances. The suit is awaiting resolution by the courts.
County health ordinances regulating animal agriculture are being adopted or considered for adoption by a number of Missouri counties. Although the ordinances are being promoted under the guise of protection of public health, the ordinances are designed for the primary purpose of restricting animal agriculture.