Missouri House OKs bill to limit regulators on farms

By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press

COLUMBIA — Missouri's Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bill to further limit regulators and law enforcement from going on farms.

Lawmakers voted 109-43 in favor of the bill, which also would apply to dog breeders. The measure now goes to the GOP-led state Senate for consideration. 

State and federal agriculture department officials, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and sheriffs departments would be among the few agencies allowed to inspect Missouri farms and breeders under the bill. Only sheriffs from the county where a farm is located could inspect the properties to enforce laws. 

Any other government regulators would be banned from going on farms unless invited by the owners. 

GOP backers said few people should have the right to go on farms without permission. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Kent Haden said his legislation still allows regulators to inspect farms and dog breeders. 

"The question is, how much inspection do you need?" he said.

Haden, a Republican from the mid-Missouri city of Mexico, previously worked as a veterinarian and as an epidemiologist for the state agriculture department. He's a member of several farm industry groups, including the Missouri Farm Bureau. 

But Rep. Tracy McCreery said Missouri already has laws against trespassing. The suburban St. Louis Democrat said enacting the bill could prevent police from going on farms to investigate crimes or other issues unrelated to farming. 

"Not all things that happen on agriculture land and on farms is related to the animals," she said.