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Amended bill makes it easier to site large animal feeding operations

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The House has approved a measure that its supporters say will make it easier to site large animal feeding facilities.

The measure says counties and townships cannot change zoning regulations after a permit application is filed. And it gives the county and township a 60-day window in which to approve or deny those applications. If the local government does not act within 60 days, the siting is approved.

Opponents said it takes away local control.

"Fairness is called uniformity," said Rep. Marvin Nelson (D-Rolla). "Why don't we just take our cities and put a single zoning ordinance in for all the cities in the state? That would be fair, too, I guess."

But Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montpelier) said in many cases, a person’s "right to farm" has been taken away by a small group of local leaders in a township or county.

"If you're a farmer or a livestock producer, is it taking away your ability to farm which is in our Constitution?" Headland said.

The bill passed 71-to-19. It goes back to the Senate, and some of the House supporters say a conference committee has some work to do on it.

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