January 27, 2005

County Enacts Ordinance To Limit Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

All communities must weigh the economic development value of concentrated animal feeding operations versus the environmental impact created by the concentrated waste products generated by such facilities. Scotland County has drawn its line in the sand as far as what is acceptable for large livestock operations seeking to locate here.

Ordinance No. 04-02 was enacted by a 3-0 vote of the Scotland County Commission on October 14, 2004.

“We realize this is a two-edged sword,” said Presiding Commissioner Mike Stephenson. “We want commerce to come into the community but we have to protect those people that have called Scotland County their home all of their lives.”

“Basically this law was implemented to protect the adjoining landowners, who were there first,” said Commissioner Win Hill.

While the new law does allow the establishment of feedlot operations for cattle, dairy cows, hogs, sheep and poultry, it establishes number regulations on animals while also establishing permit and inspection requirements, and setback requirements between the livestock operations and adjoining residences.

The local ordinance adheres to state regulations established by the Department of Natural Resources.

“Our ordinance basically follows the DNR plan except we are a little more stringent both on the numbers of animals as well as the setback required between the feedlots and adjoining residences,” said Commissioner Paul Campbell.

The local law is based on a similar ordinance passed in Linn County. Stephenson indicated that the county’s legal adviser had recommended the model, since this law was one of the first to withstand Supreme Court review.

The complex ordinance is based on Animal Units (AU) to allow all livestock to be governed under the same rule.

For calculating livestock totals housed in the feeding operations the following ratios will be used as the equivalent of 1 AU:

1 Beef Cow

.5 Horse

.7 Dairy Cow

2.5 Swine weighing over 55 pounds

15 Swine under 55 pounds

10 Sheep

30 Laying hens, 55 Turkeys

100 Broiler chickens

These animal unit numbers are based on the manure amount created by each type of livestock. The AU numbers are used to divide the classifications of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO).

A Class I CAFO has a capacity of 2,000 AU or more.

A Class II CAFO holds between 1,500 and 2,000 AU.

A Class III CAFO houses between 1,000 and 1,500 AU.

A Class IV CAFO has a capacity of 300 to 1,000 AU.

The law requires that a CAFO shall own or lease at least one acre of land for each 4 AU of capacity for wet handling wastewater systems or 1 acre per every 8 AU for dry waste handling systems.

The ordinance goes on to regulate the placement of a CAFO in reference to any other CAFO as well as in relation to any existing dwelling.

The smallest CAFO, a Class IV, may not be closer than 1,000 feet to any occupied dwelling. A Class III CAFO requires a ¼ mile set back with the distance expanding to ½ mile for a Class II CAFO. A Class I operation mandates a ¾ mile separation from any dwelling, with an additional ¼ mile setback required for every 500 animal units beyond 2,000 housed at the facility. The law also stipulates that no Class I facility may be constructed within two miles of a populated area (10 dwellings or more).

“This ordinance does not place any iron clad limit on the numbers of animals that can be housed by any particular outfit,” Campbell stated. “The only limiting factor is the setback requirements. The bigger your outfit gets, the farther away you have to be from anyone’s home. Ten or 20 years ago that may not have been a problem, but now more of the county’s population lives in the country and there just is not a whole lot of ground that doesn’t have a house within a mile or so.”

Not only does the law regulate placement of the livestock facilities in proximity to homes, it also prevents concentrating large numbers of CAFOs together.

Class I CAFOs may not be located within one mile of any other type of CAFO. Class II CAFOs required ¾ mile setbacks between any other Class II or smaller outfit. Class III CAFOs can be no closer than ½ mile to any similar sized facility while Class IV CAFOs required ¼ mile setback from other small CAFOs.

“Obviously we are not trying to do this to limit the family farmer,” Stephenson said. “We simply are trying to avoid the monster sized companies that have located in surrounding communities.”

The commission stressed that the law change would not impact any existing livestock facilities.

“Most dairy outfits have no more than 150 to 200 cows in the entire herd,” said Campbell. “I would guess the biggest operations would be borderline Class IV CAFO’s. But even if they do qualify, they are exempt from the ordinance as they are grandfathered in.”

Campbell said he didn’t believe the county had any other livestock outfits that would be effected by the law change.

However the Commission noted that exemption from the ordinance is based on current numbers. If facilities expand in the future they will be subject to the requirements of the law.

The biggest impact will be on new operations looking to relocate to Scotland County.

The law has already come into play once in this instance when a Pennsylvania man purchased ground in Scotland County with the intention of constructing a hog confinement.

The property owner met with the commission and adjoining landowners last month to discuss the plans.

“It was an excellent meeting,” Stephenson stated. “A lot of questions were answered. The new ordinance did impact the plans. Initially the owner had planned to build a facility that would have qualified as a Category II (1,500 to 2,000 AUs). But the proximity of residences to the property will only allow a Class III (1,000 to 1,500 AUs) facility.”

To establish a CAFO, the owner must apply for a county health permit. Larger outfits must apply for an operating permit with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. If the CAFO owns a DNR operating permit and meets the requirements established by the ordinance, the county health permit will be issued after the application fee is paid. If no DNR permit is required, a detailed plan must be submitted to the county commission for approval of a county operating permit.

The process calls for review of the health permit by the Scotland County Health Department, a process that calls for at least one public hearing.

The health permit is renewable annually. The permit is designed to regulate air quality and to prevent the degradation of surface or subsurface water. It is established to insure soil quality and waste disposal.

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