Kansas City, Missouri – A jury in Southern Missouri has awarded almost 2 million dollars to 16 defendants in Southern Missouri in a suit against industrial agriculture. The residents said 2 Iowa-based hog producers were liable for unpleasant odors that made it impossible for plaintiffs to work or enjoy their land. The barns collectively house over 7 thousand hogs.
The lawsuit divided a community of one time friends who live side by side and went to high school together.
The so-called "nuisance" laws are vague, and supporters of large-sale farming say it is essential to the economic viability of the state.
Paul Stefan is a part owner in the Synergy and Kenoma companies, which were sued. The giant barns are housed on his land.
Stefan says he knows the barns emit smells, but believes they are characteristic of rural America; "There are odors from all sorts of things but I'm not the jury on that or the judge."
Stefan says he doesn't know at this time if the case will be appealed.
The verdict comes at a time when the Missouri legislature is considering a bill that would cap damages against animal and crop producers for environmental nuisances such as odors.