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One hundred and fifty family farmers, rural citizens and consumers gathered at the capitol to oppose tax-payer subsidies to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, protect the rights of consumers to know how their food is produced, and stop Missouri’s participation in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
The crowd voiced strong opposition to a CAFO tax credit bill sponsored by Representative Munzlinger. A portion of HB 1590 would give tax credits to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to subsidize their compliance with environmental standards and odor abatement practices, a nearly $1 million dollar tax break for CAFOs.
“While we strongly support the improvement of CAFO practices, we strongly oppose any attempt to subsidize CAFOs for doing what Missouri’s family farmers have done for generations-simply be good neighbors,” said Ruth Hettinger, a family farmer /landowner in Knox County. “Corporate welfare at the expense of family farmers and tax-payers is just plain wrong!”
Another bill that raised the ire of farmers and consumers alike was a House and Senate Bill that would ban any type of labeling that enables consumers to know if their dairy products contain rBGH, a genetically engineered hormone that induces cows to produce more milk. Similar bills are being pushed in several states with the help of Monsanto, the manufacturer of rBGH.
“SB1279 & HB 2283 are anti-farmer, anti-consumer and anti-business,” said Rhonda Perry, a livestock and grain farmer from Howard County and Program Director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. “This is not only an issue of free speech for farmers, but also a corporate and government intrusion into the business relationship between farmer and consumer… Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced, and farmers have a right to tell them.”
Darvin Bentlage, a crop and livestock farmer from Barton County summed up the sentiments of many at the rally by calling on state legislators. “Ladies and Gentlemen, step up and let the people know they do have a voice.”
Other bills of interest included:
* Support for a raw milk bill, HB1901, sponsored by Representative Belinda Harris, which clarifies the right of farmers to sell and consumers to buy raw milk.
* Support for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) bill, SB 931, sponsored by Senator Purgason, which would limit Missouri ‘s participation in NAIS.
* Support for a local control bill, HB 1932, sponsored by Representative Jeff Harris, which would give communities more control over where corporate-controlled CAFOs are going to be allowed.