Loophole lets animal farms evade pollution rules

Livestock corporations in Missouri have found a way around state pollution rules _ instead of building megafarms, they operate smaller farms that don't fall under the state's pollution regulations.

Missouri closely regulates about 450 indoor farms. But there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of farms with confined animals and waste lagoons that don't fall under state law, a state Department of Natural Resources official said.

The practice has created more than a stir in Barton County, south of Kansas City, where one corporation has contracted with at least a dozen farmers in the last couple of years.

Zach McGuire noticed several of the smaller factory farms cropping up near his home in Barton County, and he has joined a number of residents complaining about pollution and odors.

“In southwest Missouri they are going in like gangbusters to get in under the state’s limits,” said McGuire, a traditional farmer near Lamar. “It’s like living in a porta-potty.”

To find out how many indoor farms are in Barton County, McGuire and a friend began flying over the countryside to document them. So far, they say, they have found about 50.

Factory farms are controversial in Missouri because of the massive pollution they generate. Since the mid-1990s, the state has regulated the largest ones, known as Class 1 farms, which require permits and extensive waste-management plans. Class 1 farms are divided into subcategories by size.

The smaller ones, known as Class 2 farms, can have thousands of animals too, but have few pollution regulations.

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