Farmer says proposed health ordinance would put him out of business

A central Missouri farmer says a proposed health ordinance in his county would put him out of business. George Monk and his son have a diversified farm with 60 cows, a few soybean acres and custom baling in Cooper County and he wants to have more cattle. He tells Brownfield Ag News the county health board proposal is strict, “The language within the ordinance is very stringent. It’s much more onerous than the DNR regulations. The setbacks are just going to limit any opportunity to build a building.” Monk says the proposed ordinance would also greatly restrict where he could spread manure fertilizer.

Monk says it would be an economic blow if he couldn’t expand, “We’re going to try to raise cow-calf pairs under a barn and try to get somewhere around 200 head because we kind of feel the economic advantage of 200 head per person is where you can make a middle-class income.” Monk says he has enough land to expand by another 150.

Monk is among a group of farmers fighting to both educate the health board and stop a restrictive ordinance that was proposed when some residents raised water and air quality concerns about a proposed Pipestone hog operation in Cooper county. The planned hog CAFO has been granted a permit by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Open discussion was cancelled at last night’s meeting but farmers say the board will have open discussion at tonight’s meeting. Cooper County earned “Agri-Ready” status from the Missouri Farmers Care coalition.

The newest Cooper County health board member said she was taken on a driving tour of some concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and was impressed by how “clean and tidy” they were and how little, if any, odor there was. Monk says he wishes every board member would see for themselves how modern CAFOs and livestock operations are run. A member of a local group in favor of the health ordinance declined to be interviewed by Brownfield Ag News at Tuesday night’s meeting.

AUDIO: Interview with George Monk ~



  • There are no facts in this story. How, specifically, will the health ordinance affect his operation of 200 head? Please provide the detail in any proposal so that would do so? What specific setbacks in any proposal is he referring to? What is the specific language that would affect him?
    Is he saying that he cannot build a building for his cattle unless he puts it next to his neighbor’s home? How many acres does he have? If he cannot comply with reasonable setbacks, he is violating his neighbors ‘ rights!
    Real farmers have always understood that good fences make good neighbors, that one’s right to do as they want end where the neighbor’s rights begin.The neighbors have private property rights to conduct their lives and run their businesses free from the effects of his operation as well.
    As for the tours, what kind of operations were toured, were the tours taken during the application of manure wastes to fields, of large cattle operations, of large swine operations or poultry operations??
    This story is nothing more than false propaganda for the huge CAFO ndustry, and is devoid of responsible journalism.

    • In response to Shirley Kidwell’s comment – Brownfield Ag News is respected for integrity and balance in reporting. Just because you disagree with something that one of the award-winning reporters on my team reports does not make it irresponsible.

    • that is the rub Shirley, what is a reasonable setbacks. I can easily comply with DNR regulations. The way the proposed ordinance from the Cooper County Health board is written a farmer would have to have nearly 1000 acres in one solid piece and then put the operation (the size I hope to run, worse for larger ones) exactly in the middle to comply. Please read the regulation it is on the Cooper County Health board website. It can be found in Public notices about page 3 or 4 by now. I am not part of huge CAFO industry. I have been a second shift farmer for 30 years and now I am trying to provide an opportunity for my son. Just looking to make a middle class income of my 300 acre farm. Please don’t attack the Brownfied Network for highlighting the process that is taking place in Cooper County at this moment. This report has provided you and I an opportunity to discuss this issue and that is certainly a good thing.

  • Brownfield needs to actually do some research before publishing false information. George clearly has not read the proposed regulation or he has read it but doesn’t understand it. He won’t have enough cattle to be classified for even the smallest CAFO thus no part of the regulation would apply to his operation. Can Brownfield please publish the number of farmers that went out of business in howard county during the last year do to their health regulation?

    • Brownfield does not publish false information.

      • How many farmers in Howard County went of business last year do to the Health Ordinance they adopted?

        • Under definitions in the “proposed” ordinance rule 1.1 does not define cow/calf pair. It does define a beef feeder or slaughter animal as 1 AU. rule 1.2 defines animal not specifically listed. So it could be that the cow is a beef or could be consider the same as a Dairy cow. I was trying to give the best benefit to the ordinance and only listing the cow as 1AU and the calf as 1 AU. If the cow is considered the same as a dairy cow, then the cow/calf pair is 2.4 AU together. That would make the 200 pairs, 480 AU. There are to many issues that can be interpreted in many ways. Bottom line whether its my operation or some other level the family farmer in Cooper County is going to be lost if this passes.

    • The reference to 200 head is for cows. This is a cow/calf barn. 200 cows + 200 calves = 400.
      I have read the ordinance time and time again. I have been interviewed by a local radio station and because of my knowledge on the ordinance the health board asked me to come in as a expert witness. After my presentation they were moved to state that they were going to remove Class II cafos from the ordinance. I speak from my heart on this issue in that I truly sincere in my statements. When I say I will help the health board resolve this issue I will do all I can in that regard. I also speak with my mind in that I have not and will not misrepresent the facts on the issue of the ordinance and its effect on animal agriculture in Cooper County.

      • A cow/calf pair is classified as 1 animal unit combined so if you have 200 cow/calf pairs then you will only have 200 animal units not 400.

  • Sir, The interview clearly states that he would expand by another 150 which exceeds the threshold for a Class 2 CAFO in the proposed ordinance. That proposal, the board chairman said last night, won’t be passed as written and that the board has decided not to regulate Class 2 CAFOs in the county.

  • The 200 head refers to cows in a cow/calf operation. When you talk with cow/calf ranchers they refer to the number of cows not cows and calves. I think this illustrates the lack of knowledge of some in the public. I have STUDIED the ordinance not just read it. I did an interview with a local radio station over the ordinance and also was invited by the health board as an expert witness to discuss the impact of the ordinance on family farming. After my presentation they removed restrictions on Class II cafos so I must have been convincing.
    I ask that people on both sides of this important issue educate themselves and not take the opinion of others including mine. Modern confinement systems have evolved over the last 30 years and will continue to respond to the needs of the public to allow us to have safe and affordable food sources that includes meat.

  • One of the issues I have with this particular conversation is in fact the method of counting the animals. I am VERY well accustomed to raising cattle, but while a cow/calf pair is accounted as 1 unit the reality is that there are in fact 2 animals. No, calves do not create as much manure as a cow, early on, but by the time they approach feeder size they are catching up, and the odors calves produce are apparent from the early in their lives.
    I have been told that living in the country means one had better get used to the smell of poop. In my opinion if a person moves to an area that is already producing livestock, that person should in fact realize what they are getting into. On the other hand, if a person is in an existing environment free from excessive livestock production and all that goes with it, that person has a reasonable right to expect that environment to be respected and those who wish to create a less desirable scenario should show respect for their neighbors.
    This responsibility to ones neighbors, regardless of who that neighbor is or what they do, rests with everyone. This was the way I was taught by my grandparents and parents, it is one of the traditions that should continue to bind folks who live in rural areas.
    Also, IMO Brownfield is in fact an agriculturally oriented entity and as such is going to have opinions slanted in favor of the Ag sector. That’s just a fact of life.

    • Brownfield covers agriculture. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “opinions slanted in favor of the Ag sector” but I will tell you that my team of farm broadcasters, when covering an agricultural issue, does not include personal “opinions” in stories. I do that in a commentary program that is clearly identified as such. If you are suggesting that what we do is ag-related, yes, by all means, that’s what we do.

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