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Missouri rejects demands to toughen odor laws for concentrated animal feeding operations

A concentrated animal feeding operation consisting of black and white dairy cows all in a row, feeding from a trough.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources' odor regulations exempts concentrated animal feeding operations that have fewer than 700,000 chickens, 7,000 beef cows and 17,500 hogs.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has rejected demands from a group of central Missouri residents to impose air quality regulations for all concentrated animal feeding operations, regardless of size.

The state's odor rule for confined animal feeding operations only apply to the largest concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, a DNR official told the residents last week. Class 1A CAFOs in Missouri contain at least 17,500 hogs, 7,000 cows or 700,000 chickens.

The Friends for Responsible Agriculture, a group of community residents in central Missouri, petitioned the state in late September to extend the odor rule to smaller operations. Kyra Moore, director of the air pollution control program, denied their request to amend the rule.


Jeff Jones, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingdom City, said he lives about a mile from a feeding operation that contains about 5,600 hogs. 

"If you've never smelled hogs being incinerated, you'll never forget it when you do," said Jones, whose farm is about 20 miles from Columbia.  He said some animals are incinerated at the nearby facility.

CAFOs emit hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and particulate matter that can cause respiratory problems.

Patrick Smith, a professor in the University of Missouri-Columbia's Department of Pathology and Anatomic Studies, told the Missouri Air Conservation Commission that smaller operations shouldn't be exempted from the rule. According to his affidavit, he said emissions of such air pollutants "present a public health concern for persons who reside, work and engage in other activities within a one-mile radius of a CAFO."

In her Nov. 22 letter to the petitioners, Moore said the DNR would not amend the odor rule, in part because smaller feeding operations are already governed by "other statutory and regulatory requirements."

The department previously held meetings with community residents to discuss their complaints of odors around CAFOs in 2007. That led the department to establish new regulations in 2010. DNR officials said in an email that no new rules are needed.

Jones and other residents want the Air Conservation Commission to consider amending odor regulations for CAFOs at its Dec. 7 meeting. 

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.