Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) is opposed to Senate Bill 130 (SB 130), titled “Regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” and urges members of the Utah legislature to vote against this bill. SB 130 would require counties in Utah to designate an area where they would be legally compelled to accommodate the placement of animal factory farms, creating a new special, legally-protected class of business in the state of Utah. UARC is opposed to this bill for the following reasons.
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) – commonly known as “factory farms” – are an unequivocal disaster for public health, the environment, labor rights, property values, and treatment of animals. Our state should be exploring ways to close Utah’s existing giant factory farms, not enacting laws that will facilitate the construction of new blights. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of a host of serious social and environmental challenges, including climate change, emergence of deadly pandemics, deforestation, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At a time when all of these problems are reaching crisis levels, this bill is a clear step in the wrong direction.
- Local counties and governments should control their own destiny. The state legislature is attempting to dictate to counties throughout Utah that they must be required to facilitate the placement of enormous factory farms which will dramatically alter the landscape of these communities, displacing other industries/businesses, lower property values, and lead to an exodus for current residents who do not wish to see their communities turn into a smelly wasteland for giant megafarms. There is a reason the bill contains an escape clause for large, politically powerful counties in the state of Utah – no one wants to live near these blights.
- SB 130 would erode our national sovereignty. SB 130 is being introduced in order to roll out the red carpet for Smithfield Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China. The Chinese government in conjunction with Smithfield is seeking to outsource the pollution and public health risk associated with giant pig farms to small, rural counties in Utah, who they perceive as politically powerless to standup to their polluting practices. Smithfield and China want all of the economic benefits of producing cheap meat without any of the negative externalities, which we get to deal with. This is a bad bargain for Utahns and Americans.
- SB 130 will produce a tidal wave of confusing and expensive litigation. SB 130 is a rushed bill with ill-defined and contradictory standards. Section 1104(1)(a) includes a list of more than a dozen factors a county “shall consider” when enacting its land use ordinance, but doesn’t provide any specificity with allowable limits for any of these factors. There is also a plain contradiction in (1)(a)(i), which states a “shall consider the distance of the geographic area measured in feet from the following” and Subsection (3), which states that the county “may not designate a geographic area…based solely on a uniform setback distance requirement.” Similarly, Subsection (5) provides an escape clause if a county can “demonstrate” that “population density” makes it “impossible for the county to meet the criteria,” but there are no defined standards of population density. There is a relatively smooth continuum of population densities among Utah’s 29 counites. So where exactly will the line be drawn? Can Summit County or Grand County claim population density to protect their counties from the stench of pig farms? Because the bill is silent on these questions, Smithfield will likely bring defiant counties to court, where judges and lawyers will be forced to create their own rules. In this game, the smaller counties with tiny budgets will get steamrolled by Smithfield and their army of lawyers.
For these reasons, we urge all members of the Utah legislature to vote NO on Senate Bill 130.