Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster Comes to the Aid of Big, Stinky Corporate Farms

click to enlarge The Arrow Rock Tavern first opened its doors in 1834. -
The Arrow Rock Tavern first opened its doors in 1834.
Three years ago the 79 residents of Arrow Rock sued the state's Department of Natural Resources for issuing a permit that would allow a corporate hog farm -- with 4,800 pigs -- to set up shop on the outskirts their historic mid-Missouri town.

In issuing a ruling in favor of the residents, a Cole County judge agreed that "odors and volatile and dangerous airborne pollutants" from the farm would "decimate" the historic area. (The entire town of Arrow Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and today attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year.)

Now Attorney General Chris Koster is appealing the judge's ruling and in turn hoping to stop other Missouri municipalities from having a say as to where corporate farms can locate. As you might expect, Koster's action has the support of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Chris Koster
Chris Koster
"In the eyes of the agricultural community, this is starting to spin out of control," Koster tells the Wall Street Journal this week when asked why he's stepping in to reverse the Arrow Rock decision.

Back in 2007, when the attorney general was a Republican lawmaker (he is now a Democrat), Koster floated a bill that would have limited counties from setting up their own agricultural zoning. Koster says he wants a statewide law addressing corporate farms "so that we don't have 500 different zoning units over agriculture."

That's cold comfort, though, for the residents of Arrow Rock and others who fear a reversal could allow corporate farms to operate closer and closer to residential areas. Last month the Kansas City Star denounced Koster's actions in an editorial. Governor Jay Nixon also seems to oppose the actions of his attorney general, though he declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal, citing the pending legislation.

Koster's appeal will have its first oral arguments next month at Missouri's Western District Court in Kansas City.

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