September 25, 2008

County Commission Repeals Local Law Governing Hog Confinements

Just shy of four years after the Scotland County Commission implemented regulations regarding concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), the local leaders unanimously voted to repeal ordinance 04-02.

The Commission voted 3-0 to repeal the ordinance during regular session on September 18th.

The minutes from the meeting offered the following statement:

“It is the county commission’s belief that Scotland County does not have the resources or staffing to properly enforce this ordinance. The County Commission is of the opinion that this should be managed by the state Department of Natural Resources and not county government. It is our hope that DNR will revisit their regulations and improve them.”

The commissioners discussed the legality of repealing the ordinance with Ivan Schrader, attorney for the Missouri Association of Counties, prior to the action on September 18th. Shrader prepared the repeal ordinance, which stated:

“Whereas, the Scotland County Commission has determined that it is in the better interests of Scotland County that Ordinance No. 04-02, as amended, be repealed in its entirety.”

The repeal of the county regulations took effective immediately following the commission action on September 18th.

Following the repeal of the ordinance, the regulations controlling CAFOs in the county reverted to the state DNR established rules.

When it enacted 04-02 back on October 14, 2004, the commission indicated it was doing so to implement more stringent guidelines on both the number of animals allowed in CAFO’s as well as the setbacks required to separate the facilities for neighboring residences.

The DNR and county ordinances both use animal units (AU) to determine CAFO rules. For hogs, 2.5 animals over 55 pounds in size constitute 1 AU. It takes 15 hogs less than 55 pounds to make 1 AU.

Under the county rules any CAFO with 2,000 AU or more was required to have a ¾ mile setback from adjoining homes, with an additional ¼ mile distance for every 500 AU above 2,000.

By comparison, the state DNR requirements have no setback limits for any CAFO with fewer than 1,000 AU. Only when the facility houses more than 2,500 hogs does the DNR require a setback. The buffer distance for a DNR classified Class 1C CAFO (1,000 to 2,999 AU)) is 1,000 feet. A class 1B CAFO (3,000 – 6,999 AU) is 2,000 feet and Class 1A (7,000 AU or more) is 3,000 feet.

Under current DNR regulations, no permits are required for operations of less than 300 AU (or the equivalent of 750 or fewer hogs of 55 pounds or more, or fewer than 4,500 hogs below 55 pounds).

Since the ordinance was enacted in 2004, four CAFO’s have completed the permitting process and are currently in operation in Scotland County, under the county guidelines. Three other facilities have received building permits and are in the process of completing the operating permit process with two other prospective facilities currently entered into the public hearing process to attain building permits.

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