A bill limiting facility inspection authority to certain state and federal agencies was again filed by state Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico. A similar version of the bill was filed by Haden in February, but failed to pass after a filibuster in the Missouri Senate.
The bill limits inspection authority to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the county sheriff, United States Department of Agriculture, and any other federal or Missouri state agency with statutory or regulatory authority over products and animals.
“We want trained professionals that have a legal right to be there,” Haden said. “This clarifies who has a right for a producer.”
The bill prevents out-of-state agencies from conducting production facility inspections, unless invited to do so by a producer. Regulations used by states like California and Ohio could not be applied in Missouri, Haden said. His bill covers egg production, milk and other dairy products, livestock and poultry, dog raising and other animals not used in food products.
The listed state and federal agencies would be the only ones with authority to conduct inspections. So county health departments or other non-regulated inspectors could not come to a facility without producer permission, according to the bill.
House Bill 1583 is similar to the final version of Haden's failed House Bill 951, with a couple differences, Haden said. The bill will not apply to Class 1 counties.
A clause in the Haden's bill would allow for county health departments to inspect facilities, but only the product manufacturing side of the facility. If a goat farmer also has a cheese making facility, for example, the county health department could inspect the cheese making equipment and building, but not the goat barns or milking facility.
"We added that not the production, but those further manufacturing facilities, were excluded from the bill," Haden said. "To sell cheese, they have to have public health inspect them. There was a small niche that was left in a little bit of limbo because of [my last bill] and we've corrected that."
HB 951 came alongside Sen. Mike Bernskoetter's, R-Jefferson City, Senate Bill 391 earlier this year, which was celebrated by concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO advocates. It passed and was signed by Gov. Mike Parson. It nullified county public health ordinances over farms and limited them to state regulations. While Bernskoetter's bill focused on county health ordinances overall, Haden's bill looks at who can conduct health inspections.
The bill also leaves it up to a producer to make a decision on who they allow to inspect their facilities, such as with a production expansion, Haden said. The agencies listed in the bill are ones already with regulatory authority, he added.
"A lot of these facilities have a real high biosecurity level,” he said. “Swine facilities have a high biosecurity level because of African Swine Fever. You want somebody who is trained in biosecurity before they come into those facilities. That's part of the deal. We want people who know what they're doing, are trained and have a reasonable right to be there.”
Biosecurity refers to the process of limiting animal exposure to pests and diseases, which can be carried into facilities by workers and inspectors, if not properly decontaminated.
Haden was a regulatory veterinarian for 28 years before seeking public office. He was sent in to conduct animal welfare inspections, but said it didn't seem he always had clear authority to do the inspections. Unauthorized people seeking to inspect facilities could be considered harassment, Haden said.
"[My bill] gives a protection to the regulatory people who are sent in. It says, 'Hey, you have authority to be here.' It says who has authority and who doesn't. It makes some further clarifications of Bernskoetter's now that his bill has passed," he said.