I’m happy for the chance to use my Libertarian platform to defend rural farmers against conservative lawmakers in regard to CAFO regulations. Too often in the last few years I’ve found my Libertarian ideals deeply at odds with authoritarian so-called conservatives but this case brings us together. At least some of us.
At issue is legislation making it illegal for local counties to regulate CAFOs. The Missouri Supreme Court recently upheld the Missouri legislature’s law to that affect. The people fighting against this are largely rural farmers and landowners who do not want a CAFO on nearby land and wish to enforce sensible regulations on them.
What is a CAFO?
A CAFO is a concentrated animal feeding operation. Fun name. Disgusting result. Basically, industrial farms house tens of thousands of animals, or even a hundred thousand animals, at a single facility. This is done because it can be extremely profitable for the company doing so. This concentration of animals results in an enormous amount of manure. The manure contains nutrient pollution, pathogens, salts, odorous compounds, antibiotics, pesticide, and hormones.
The Danger of a CAFO
The danger in such a large concentration of animals at a single facility is obvious. The waste product as listed above can easily destroy the local ecosystem and the smell can be unbearable for neighbors. The air quality in the region of a CAFO brings health risks to anyone living nearby.
Then, of course, there is the reasonable concern for the welfare of animals. While they are to be slaughtered, the conditions in which they sometimes live their lives can not unfairly be described as vile.
In addition, these facilities largely drive down the price of meat and make it difficult for local farmers to make a living. Naturally, this is also a good thing in that consumers pay less for their dietary needs.
The State’s Role in a CAFO
It is the state’s obligation to pass laws in regards to CAFO safety. Laws in regard to how much waste a facility can dump, how it manages that waste, and how the animals are treated are in place.
In Missouri we have a Right to Farm. That means local counties can pass rules regarding how farming is in done in their region. Small farmers, generally conservative in their political beliefs, do not like having a CAFO in the region. This aligns them with environmentalists and animal rights activists, generally considered liberal groups.
The Missouri legislatures passed a law which makes it illegal for local counties to make any regulation on a CAFO stricter than the state’s own laws.
Naturally, the local farmers weren’t too happy about the state coming in and telling them what they can and cannot do. I agree wholeheartedly. Keep in mind I also agree when it comes to transgender issues or when the school year starts. This is where my Libertarian philosophy doesn’t run into any conflict. I think the local community has every right to pass regulations regarding things not protected in the Constitution of the United States.
If the local community wants to pass rules on a CAFO or a drag-show, it’s absolutely their constitutional right to do so. The state cannot, in my opinion, restrict this right. The Missouri Supreme Court thinks differently. They think the state can make rules for the country or municipality. This implies that state leaders know better than local leaders what the people of the region desire.
If the people of St. Louis City have no desire to outlaw drag shows then the state should have no power to overrule them. Likewise, if a rural community wants to restrict how a CAFO goes about their business, the state should not be able to overrule them.
If you are for one of those things but against the other, then you are neither a conservative or a liberal. I don’t know what you are, but I do know you’re not a Libertarian.