MO State Capital

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Senate passed a bill to block local officials from regulating industrial farms more strictly than the state does.

Senators voted 23-11 on May 2 to send the bill to the House.

Missouri senators gave initial approval early April 30 to the legislation. Lawmakers debated for several hours overnight on the environmental impact of large farms, local control over them and actions taken by some county officials that critics said have threatened to regulate industrial farms out of existence.

“It’s kind of boiling down to people who have nothing to do with it wanting to impose additional restrictions on people who live in rural areas,” said Republican Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, who lives in the northeastern city of Shelbina.

The bill deals with farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations. At least 20 counties have imposed additional regulations and fees on animal feeding operations through health ordinances, according to data from University of Missouri Extension. Another nine counties and townships enacted zoning regulations.

Bipartisan opponents of the Senate bill raised concerns ranging from local control to the impact industrial farms have on air and water quality. Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot, from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, said he’s “not anti-CAFO.”

“I’m just bothered by what we’re trying to do here by pre-empting these counties,” Cierpiot said.

Debate ended after senators agreed to add a provision to the bill that sets limits on the use of manure from industrial farms near streams and other bodies of water.

Lawmakers face a May 17 deadline to pass legislation.