Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quit complaining! We won!

From the Heartland this morning, Margot McMillen breathes easier: A great e-mail this morning, just one of many from progressive organizations that won some key issues in the Missouri legislature. Last night, the session closed with the traditional ritual of throwing the huge stacks of bills into the air. And we held back the bad guys on some key issues. Here's what the e-mail said: We Won Important Victories— Thank YOU for Helping Preserve Local Control & Support Family Farms Thanks to the hard work of our members and supporters who took action, numerous pro-CAFO, anti-local control and anti-family farm bills were defeated or severely weakened during the 2013 legislative session, which ended today. Every Lobby Day visit, every phone call and every email made a difference, and there were thousands of them! These are big victories for family farms, rural communities, local control and the food supply. This was a very difficult and long legislative session, and our bills were in play to the very last day, but all your hard work paid off and we THANK YOU! These victories show that we can win on key issues for family farms, the environment and the future of our communities when we work together to hold policymakers accountable to the people and to our communities. Below is a brief summary of some of the bills we impacted: Senate Bill 342— SB 342 was an ag-omnibus bill that Reprentative Guernsey added bad anti-local control language to. This disastrous anti-local control language was removed in Conference Committee…but not without a fight. The anti-local control language would have: • Forced counties to hire a CAFO operator to administer any local health ordinance that affects CAFOs. • Stopped any county from passing manure application standards that are stricter than the current inadequate DNR/state standards, including setbacks from farms, homes and communities. • No current ordinances are grandfathered in, so all existing local ordinances passed by County Commissions and Health Boards will be null and void unless they comply with these mandates. • Stopped County Health Boards from passing ANY health ordinances without getting the approval of the County Commission. Senate Bill 9— Similar to SB 342, SB 9 was amended in the House by Representative Guernsey to include bad anti-local control language. Again, thanks to your hard work making phone calls and sending emails, the language was removed by Senator Pearce in Conference Committee. House Joint Resolution 7&11—The So-Called “Right to Farm” The original House version of HJR 7&11 was a proposed constitutional amendment that would have taken away Local Control from Missouri counties, stopped the legislature from protecting the health and welfare of Missourians related to corporate agriculture, and limited the constitutional right of Missourians to utilized the ballot initiative process. Everyone’s calls and emails resulted in this language being taken out and a specific sentence added to protect Local Control. This was a major accomplishment. The bad news is that this bill still adds unnecessary language to our constitution and could have negative unintended consequences—We already have the right to farm. Senate Bill 41—“The Pollution Protection Act” The “Pollution Protection Act”, SB 41 would have taken away constitutional rights of farmers and landowners to protect their property & property rights through the court system. Corporate lobbyists once again convinced some legislators of the need to protect a very small minority of corporate industrial livestock operations at the expense of the property rights of the majority of family farms and rural landowners. This bill finally died today, the last day of the legislative session. ________________________________________ Our future work depends on the commitment of these legislators to continue to support our issues. It is really important that we let them know that we appreciate the actions they took to protect Local Control & Family Farms.

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