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Sierra Club Wants Scientific Review on CAFOs in Missouri

Earlier this month, the Sierra Club requested that Governor Jay Nixon’s administration conduct a scientific review on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, also known as CAFOs. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

In Missouri, there are over 450 CAFOs and some hold as many as 100,000 animals. The Sierra Club believes there are some major health risks associated with these operations. Ken Midkiff is the chairman of the Missouri Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign.

“The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations house thousands of hogs or millions of chickens and the animals literally never see the light of day.”

Midkiff says that studies by the American Public Health Association, the Pew Commission, and the John Hopkins Center have concluded that CAFOs pose threats to human health. He also says that he is skeptical of Nixon’s administration being able to conduct an objective study, so he’s asking the state to simply review the studies already completed by other organizations. One of the reasons Midkiff has lost confidence in Nixon is because during the Missouri State Fair, Nixon stood side-by-side with agribusiness representatives and handed out pork sandwiches from meat produced by CAFOs.

“So my concern is that the money being donated to Governor Nixon’s re-election and to his ongoing stint in office will sway his administration from doing what they should be doing.”

Midkiff says he is not confident that a scientific review will even be accomplished. Steve Taylor is the president and executive director of the Missouri Agribusiness Association.

“Many of these CAFOs are farmer operations and they are operating family farms.”

Taylor says there is actually a declining number of these farms in Missouri. He also says that he believes there are not any serious health threats with CAFOs.

“There has been health issues raised and I know the EPA has looked at them and I do know if there were serious concerns raised and it was credible I would be certain that the federal and state government would be involved in that.”

Taylor said the Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair has been a tradition and governors for many years have always gone and handed out food at that event.

Scott Holste is a spokesperson for Governor Jay Nixon.

“The Governor has proven that he’s going to fight on behalf of protecting the environment and at the same time also work to try to ensure that Missouri’s family farms stay as a viable part of the economic backbone of the state.”

The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Missouri have been a source of debate for several years. Midkiff says he has yet to receive a response from the governor’s office on his call for a scientific review.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.