August 13, 2009

County Commission Approves New Health Ordinance to Regulate CAFOs

Just a little over a week after the voters of Scotland County spoke out in favor of a county health ordinance to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations, the county commission has answered the call with ordinance 09-01.

The ordinance was passed by a 3-0 vote on Monday, August 10th and was to become effective on August 12th.

The new law mirrors the county’s former health ordinance to a large extent, but does offer expanded setbacks and further defined regulations for disposal of the animal waste.

“We’ve already heard from some who say we are watering it down, but we feel like this is fair,” said Commissioner Deny Clatt. “We have strengthened the law in some areas and made some concessions in other areas.”

The new ordinance states that no CAFO may be located within ½ mile of an occupied dwelling. Previously under the repealed ordinance 04-02, that setback had been 1,000 feet for the smallest CAFO units (2,499 hogs or less). The largest CAFOs still must be no closer than ¾ mile to any residence.

The new law offers a more defined description of an occupied dwelling, which is:

any residence that “has been occupied a minimum of 120 days during the 12-month period immediately prior to the date upon which a permit is issued by the Department of Natural Resources for the construction of a CAFO.”

The law also continues to regulate the proximity in which one CAFO can be built in relation to another. The smallest units may be no closer than ½ mile to another Class IV CAFO. The largest units may be no closer than one mile to any other CAFO.

The commission also further defined application of CAFO manure to farm ground, adding that it must be injected into the land at a minimum depth of four inches. No minimum depth had previously been defined and some citizen groups had been seeking to define the minimum depth at up to eight inches.

Previously ground with slope of 20% or less had been acceptable for use of animal waste application. The new law changes that restriction to slope of 14% or less.

This animal waste still may not be applied to ground within 1,000 feet of an occupied dwelling or 100 feet of a waterway.

The county health department is removed from the equation under the new law. Previously the county commission could refer a CAFO application to the health department for review, subject to a report for consideration to the county commission.

The law no longer calls for a minimum of one public hearing prior to the issuance of a health permit.

Air quality definitions were removed from the previous ordinance, instead replacing restrictions on Carbon Dioxide, Ammonia, Hydrogen Sulfide, Methane and Carbon Monoxide as defined in 04-02 with a general declaration that any determination ruled on by the Missouri state government regarding an environmental standard will be recognized by the county.

Previously the smallest CAFO’s (Class IV) had not been required to maintain a pollution clean-up certificate of insurance coverage. Under the new law, they must maintain a $10,000 certificate. Class III units must still maintain a $30,0000 certificate with Class II units at $50,000 of coverage and Class I at $70,000 of coverage.

The county also reduced the administrative fees for a county health permit from $1,000 to $500.

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