The Cooper County Board of Health passed a regulation three-to-one Friday afternoon to oversee concentrated animal feeding operations with more than 1,000 animal units.

The regulation gives the health department purview to oversee Class-I CAFO’s and bars the operations from applying waste within 100 feet of residential property. The Department of Natural Resources only requires a 50-foot buffer zone. Under this regulation, any existing CAFO’s are grandfathered in and not subject to the legislation.

Board members discussed a draft of this regulation during the regularly scheduled July meeting. Since then, members have met with a variety of experts on the subject to revise the draft.

“I’m very grateful to the board,” said Melanie Hutton, administrator for the Cooper County Health Department. “They worked really hard on this regulation. It’s a loss for some people, but overall, a win for the health of the community.”

Under this regulation, the Board of Health has the ability to report any violations to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Any operation violating the regulation will receive a written notice and must submit a remediation plan within 30 days. If the operation fails to do that, the Board of Health will refer the violation to the prosecuting attorney or seek legal action. 

“It’s a victory,” said Fred Williams, an organizer of the Opponents of Cooper County CAFO’s group. “It’s not exactly what we wanted, but a victory nonetheless.”

Board member Susan Felten said she voted against the regulation, because CAFO’s are already regulated by DNR.

“This has been a tremendously tough issue,” Felten said. “We all have friends and family on both sides of the issue. The board has taken this very seriously. I just hope that this puts the issue to rest.”