Large poultry and swine operations are popping up all over the state, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been doing nothing to stop them:
Going up against a CAFO isn’t just big business, it’s big politics.
Take the CAFO proposed by Michelle and Rodney Ozbun near Roaring River State Park in Barry County, one of more than 500 such operations in the state raising cattle, swine and poultry.
The lawyer the Ozbuns have hired to represent their interests in Jefferson City is Michael Schmid, an associate in the firm of Schreimann, Rackers, Francka & Blunt in Jefferson City. The Blunt in the firm is Andrew Blunt, son of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and brother to Gov. Matt Blunt. Matt Blunt appointed Doyle Childers to head the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which licenses and oversees large CAFOs in Missouri.
There is no record of Schmid giving money to Matt Blunt’s 2004 campaign, but the principals in the law firm now representing Ozbun, or the principals’ relatives, gave at least $7,600 to directly underwrite Matt Blunt’s political ambitions in 2004, according to the database maintained by the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
Direct giving is just a piece of the puzzle.
Since the 2000 election cycle, companies with a stake in CAFO legislation have given thousands of dollars to the Republican Party — which can then be given to Matt Blunt or other Republican candidates in the form of “soft” money.
The Globe accompanies the article with an editorial suggesting that if DNR head Doyle Childers and Governor Matt Blunt do not represent the people on this issue, elect a governor who does:
The process is a simple one, and outlined in today’s story on 1A: A Barry County woman puts in a CAFO to raise birds for George’s Processing Inc., a major poultry company with connections in Missouri and Arkansas. She hires the firm of lawyer-lobbyists that includes Andrew Blunt, son of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and brother of Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt. You can’t get more connected than that. The principals in the firm gave thousands to get Matt Blunt elected in 2004. The companies themselves, and their executives and their political action committees and their relatives, gave thousands more.
Then Blunt appoints Doyle Childers, who, with apologies to Will Rogers, has never met a CAFO he doesn’t like, and turns the Missouri Department of Natural Resources into the can-do arm of corporate agriculture.
This agency says it is unable to even protect one of the Ozarks’ crown jewels, Roaring River, from the explosion of CAFOs in Missouri, and in particular, Southwest Missouri. And this, despite the fact that our state parks also fall under the control of DNR.
Get the picture? DNR is unwilling to stop CAFOs from fouling even itself.
The Globe reporting is solid and the editorial is a welcome one, but where has the newspaper been all of this time? If the Joplin Globe had been reporting on campaign contributions and the effect of special interests on this issue (and many others) on a regular basis, perhaps its readers would have had enough information to have made some different choices at the ballot box. The effect special interests, campaign contributions, and lobbyists have on the political process and on the issues that affect our everyday lives is ongoing. It is not a responsible approach to drop in every few years, investigate and then never follow up. There are new developments all of the time.
Hopefully, today's stories and editorial mark a new approach for the Globe and we will continue to see this type of important investigative work.