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Factory Farms Massing in Missouri, Kansas, New Report Says

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In Greeley County in western Kansas, voters last week overturned a 12-year-old referendum that prohibited large hog farms from locating there.

But in northwest Missouri, a new health ordinance in Andrew County now limits where factory farms can build.

The struggle over huge livestock farms continues to roil in Missouri and Kansas, and no wonder - a new report shows the two states in the middle of the growing concentration of factory farming.

The report, "Factory Farm Nation, How America Turned its Livestock Farms Into Factories," includes a map that pinpoints the areas nationally, by state and county, with the highest numbers of factory farm livestock. The northern half of Missouri is heavy on hogs; feedlot cattle are predominant in Kansas.

Closer to Kansas City, Missouri counties with large hog farms include Cass, Lafayette, Johnson, Ray and Platte. On the Kansas side, Douglas and Atchison counties have the highest concentrations of feedlot cattle.

The report was produced by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organization that advocates safe food policies.

Factory farms have displaced many small farmers, according to the report.

"Rural America is going to hell in a handbasket," said Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which supports independent producers and small farmers.

In Missouri, there are 90 percent fewer independent hog farmers than in the mid-1980s, but the number of hogs being produced in the state has stayed relatively the same, said Perry, a livestock farmer.

Leslie Holloway, the Missouri Farm Bureau's state and local governmental affairs director, questioned the report's conclusions. She said new census information showed that there was growth of both small and large farms. And many of the new farms tend to be smaller.

"The ultimate objective by many of the proponents of the report and reports like this are driven by the belief that livestock operations should be of a certain size for whatever reason," Holloway said.


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