‘Show Me’ is for real in Cooper County

About 23 years ago, when I decided I needed to advocate for farmers and ranchers, I did not head to Washington, DC but instead I spent time in county Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation hearings in a multitude of states. CAFO became a buzzword of the era.

The most memorable event was in Minnesota, near Lewistown, as Bill and Jean Rowekamp lobbied to expand their dairy operation. I took a picture of a clergy person standing in the meeting with a sign that said, “CAFOs increase crime by bringing racial diversity to the local community.” I knew then that we were in for a battle.

I try to put this into context every day as someone tells me about the dangers of the WHO, the United Nations, and the World Economic Forum to the future of animal agriculture and food production. The threat, as well as the solution, is local, not global. These global elites are not showing up at county level meetings spreading misinformation; these are local people who have been grossly misled. That misinformation is truly the challenge to food production in the United States and quite honestly, in my opinion, has brought about the consolidation of farming.

Just a couple weeks ago I stumbled on a community that decided to be part of the solution instead of whining about being a victim of the problem. In August 2019, the local Public Health Center for Cooper County, Missouri, adopted Regulation 6, which, in effect, shut down animal agriculture for fear of the potential “dangers” of animals to air quality and water quality in the county.

The citizens of the county did not take this sitting down; 102 of them joined together to file a lawsuit against the Public Health Center. In October 2022, they not only won a jury trial but the county had to pay the attorney fees for the plaintiffs. The answer was clear: locals did not expect someone else to fix their problem. They took the bull by the horns and got it done themself. This story needs to be shared far and wide.

Honestly, I hear about some issue like this every single day. It is compounded now by the news of some corporations and global elites who instigate the majority of the misinformation, while the whole concept of corporate agriculture gets hung up in the mix. If we go back to my original reference to Bill Rowekamp’s story, local non-farm people heard about a dairy going from 400 cows to 1,200 cows and they determined that it must be “corporate agriculture” or maybe even “factory farming.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you research Bill Rowekamp, who had to sell out after the expansion project failed, he ended up spending more money just trying to build than he could afford. I went to his farm and personally witnessed the environmental stewardship he implemented in his fields:

“Jean and Bill Rowekamp of Lewiston have had their dairy farm certified a Five Star Dairy by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. The award was presented in conjunction with the MMPA’s Environmental Quality Assurance Program.”

Today everybody thinks they want to help improve the quality of air and water without the first bit of knowledge on how to do that. Thanks to United States farmers and ranchers, our air and water quality have never been better. Farmers are part of the solution to improving the health of the planet and the human beings who live there.

The answer to continued domestic food production for national security is that we all need to show up to help the community leaders understand how important every local aspect of food and energy production is. Now we have a perfect example of how to do that very thing courtesy of the “Show Me” state. Thank you, Cooper County, Missouri.

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the views of High Plains Journal. Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at [email protected].