local farm

  • Board Bill 52 FAQ

    FAQ about Board Bill 52


    This document was made to ensure public knowledge about the proposed bill (Board Bill No. 52). The bill has not been passed as of this post.


    Q: What does this bill change?

    A: The current law allows a maximum of four of the following animals: cats, dogs, chickens, a series of other birds, and one pot-bellied pig. Under the proposed bill, residents in any zoning district would be allowed to keep a maximum of eight fowl depending on size of one’s yard, in addition to up to four domestic animals (Section 3 Subsection D). Things that won’t change in the proposed bill include the banning of large farm animals or roosters on any residential area.

    (Fowl: chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeons, quail, and pheasants)


    Q: Are roosters allowed?

    A: No. The current law states that roosters are prohibited in the City of St. Louis and this will not change if the proposed bill passes. (Section 3 Subsection A)


    Q: Does this change how many cats and dogs I can have?

    A: No! The number of chickens one may have would not influence the number of pets allowed under the proposed bill. You will still be able to have 4 domestic animals.


    Q: What are the sanitary conditions required for keeping chickens?

    A: The Health Commissioner has the authority to outline set standards and regulations for keeping chickens that include spatial regulations and the maintenance of bugs, smell, allergens, manure, containers, and deceased chickens.


    Q: What will be the spatial guidelines for keeping chickens or rabbits?

    A: The bill sets minimum spatial requirements per chicken (Section 3 Subsection C). Each individual chicken requires four square feet of indoor space, or covered space like a coop, and ten square feet of outdoor enclosure area, an area uncovered like a cage. For example, if a city resident would like to have four chickens, the resident would need to make available a total of sixteen square feet of indoor space and forty square feet of outdoor enclosure area. The spacial requirements were decided based on the guidance of the City of St. Louis Department of Health.


    Q: If my neighbor owns chickens, how will it impact my living space or neighborhood?

    A: It is not permitted to keep chickens in residential front yards (Section 4 Subsection A). This way, birds will be out of sight for neighbors and passers-by. According to a survey research study in the Land Use Policy Journal, 87% of chicken owners had not received any complaints from their neighbors about their birds.


    Q: What about the noise and the smell?

    A: Chickens, as long as they are well-maintained and clean, do not smell any more than any other animal. As long as owners follow basic sanitation and maintenance practices, smell should not be a problem. In addition, chickens tend to be fairly quiet animals compared to barking dogs, noisy traffic, and other typical city sounds.


    Q: Who do I call if a neighbor is out of compliance?

    A: If a citizen notices a neighbor that is out of compliance with the above sanitary or spatial guidelines, you can call the City of St. Louis Department of Health as violations of this code are considered a public nuisance. Their phone number is (314) 612-5100.


    Q: What are some of the health concerns that come along with raising chickens and how will they be addressed?

    A:  Although there have been some health concerns over keeping backyard chickens, ensuring the health of chickens and their owners is simple as long as certain precautions are taken to prevent disease. In order to protect you and your birds from disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend washing hands with soap and water after handling poultry or related materials such as food and water dishes or cages. Disease can also be prevented by wearing gloves when cleaning cages and coops. Owners can prevent disease by keeping living spaces clean for chickens, monitoring for signs of sick birds, and contacting professionals for help if they believe a bird is infected. For more information and resources on disease and recommendations check out this webpage.


    Q: Why are this bill and urban agriculture valuable to St. Louis?

    A: Backyard chickens can provide a multitude of benefits for residents including fresh eggs, natural fertilizer, and pest control. In addition, increasing urban agriculture puts St. Louis on the map as a leader in developing local food systems by supporting residents in growing and/or raising food for themselves and their community.


    Q: Are other cities passing similar policies?

    A: Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, and many more cities have passed similar policies. Even Missouri’s own Kansas City and Columbia permit keeping backyard chickens.


    Q: What are the basics of keeping chickens?

    A: Keeping chickens is a fulfilling practice and involves multiple steps and preparations. This progress begins by doing your research on raising chickens, including choosing what breed of chickens are the best fit for you, deciding if you are going to obtain chicks or adults, finding the best space in your yard for them, and ensuring that this space fits the spacial requirements laid out by the City (see above for more information on spatial requirements). Once you have researched and obtained the proper infrastructure for housing chickens, they require feeding and watering, maintaining coops, managing manure and properly disposing of their waste, which is compostable. For more information on raising chickens visit this link.






  • Food and Farm Program

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Food & Farm Coordinator

    Why is an environmental organization working on food? 

    Our current, industrialized agriculture system threatens the quality of our water, soil, and air - all of which MCE has worked to protect for over 45 years - and has adverse impacts on the health of Missouri residents. 


    There is a massive disconnect between people and food. Our current food system is not feeding our children, supporting our communities, or ensuring the protection of our soil and water resources. Missouri is fortunate to have naturally high quality soils capable of producing an array of fruits and vegetables, yet most of our land is dedicated to growing corn and soy - crops used primarily to produce livestock feed, processed food, and ethanol. Much of the fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores comes from far away places - California, Mexico, Chile, and Canada. Our grocery store shelves are lined with cheap sugar-, salt-, and fat-laden processed foods. Federal policies make Hostess Twinkies(R) cheaper than a bag of carrots. Issues of limited food access and no true consumer choice hit home for many families in urban and rural communities across Missouri and the nation. 

    I believe it's time to back control of our food supply.Through our Food and Farm Program, MCE works to ensure that all Missourians have access to affordable, healthy food that is produced by local farmers who care for the land and are paid decent wages.

    MCE works to change the status quo of Missouri’s agriculture industry so that our farmland supports a robust, sustainable, secure, and equitable food production system that preserves the environmental integrity of our air, land, and water.


    Read more about the environmental and health effects of our current food system, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and the importance of Farm Bill - an omnibus bill that funds an array of federal programs, including programs related to corn production, school lunches, greenhouses, and farmers markets.

    2014 St. Louis Regional Food Study

    We believed that our current food system was threatening all of the resources we seek to protect at MCE, so we wanted to see how the industrialized food system is impacting our health, environment, our farmers, and our local economy here in the St. Louis region. In order to understand these local effects, we compiled data from USDA and Missouri’s Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems (CARES) and to produce the 2014 St. Louis Regional Food Study. We found that there’s a clear link between our food, our health, and the health of our environment in the St. Louis area. Explore our Food Studypage for more information, including access to the complete abridged report and the executive summary. Read below to find the main points of the seven-chapter Food Study.

    1. The St. Louis Region Foodshed is defined as the 100-mile radius around St. Louis in which we’ve studied the relationship between environment, food, and health.
    2. The types of foods we consume and how they’re produced have plagued our area with disease and negative health consequences.
    3. Creating a more localized food production system will keep money and jobs within the St. Louis region, and empower small farmers.
    4. We have valuable land and soil resources for growing our own food in the region, but these resources need to be protected.
    5. Industrialized farming practices in the St. Louis region are reducing the diversity of crops and harming land quality.
    6. The St. Louis region has a huge investment in the livestock industry, but not an investment in healthy, safe animal farming practices.
    7. Industrialized chemical modifications are currently threatening the safety of our food, environment, and health.
    8. We need to make healthy food available on a local level to St. Louis area residents.

    People throughout Missouri and the nation are questioning our dependence on fossil-fuel based agriculture, high fat, high sugar processed foods, and a food system in which our food travels farther in a week than we do in a year. Increasingly, farmers, gardeners, chefs, consumers, health professionals, grocers, schools, hospitals, and restaurants are seeking foods that are free of chemicals, produced with respect for land, water, and wildlife, locally grown as much as possible, fresh, and that promote good health. We contribute to that effort by identifying policies to promote these aims, targeting obstacles to these aims, connecting communities creating solutions, and sharing information to help inform public decisions.

    Goals for MCE's Food and Farm Program

    1. Reduce pollution from fertilizers (manure and synthetic) and farm chemicals in order to keep waters healthy and safe.

    2. Protect and restore wetlands and floodplains to preserve the flood storage, pollutant-filtering and wildlife habitat capacities of these landforms.

    3. Promote a  healthy, sustainable food system that is independent of fossil fuels and petrochemicals, that uses water wisely, and restores and protects Missouri’s soils.
    4. Promote a food system that maintains a diversified seed stock independent of genetically modified and privately patented seeds.
    5. Promote the preservation of quality agricultural land for farm purposes rather than industrialized use.
    6. Promote strong conservation requirements so that taxpayer funded farm program benefits do not go to producers who fail to protect soil and water.
    Local Food Policy

    One way to mitigate the negative impacts of our industrialized farm system is to support local food movements. For instance, one of our current projects is researching gapsin the current food system. We are convening a multi-stakeholder group to advocate for policies and projects that can close these gaps and support a thriving healthy local food system around St. Louis. Click here to learn more about the other local food initiatives that MCE hopes to support, such as cooking demonstrations, community gardens, and farm-to-school programs. If your organization is interested in being a part of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, contact Food and Farm Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Survey: Growing Food in the City of St. Louis

    Growing Food in the City of St. Louis


    Thank you to all who participated in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition's survey about growing food in the city! The survey is now closed. We were able to hear from 854 people from 75 of the city's 79 neighborhoods! Through this survey effort, we sought to learn from city residents: 1) what they and their neighbors are already growing, 2) what types of agriculture activities they would like to see in the city, and 3) how they would like those activities to be regulated. Five participants will receive a gift basket of food and farm swag from STLFPC members! We will use the survey responses to draft an urban agriculture ordinance that meets residents' needs and desires.
    We developed this survey with the assistance of Andy Bramman, a St. Louis University student, interning with MCE's Food and Farm Program this summer.

    The results are in!

    View results from the entire city here as well as the results for the neighborhoods in North CityCentral Corridor, and South City!
    See the survey results by ward below: 

    Click here to read our press release about the survey results. 

    Read articles from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and St. Louis Public Radio about the survey results. 

    Maps of the Survey Data

    Click to Zoom


    Alderwoman of the 19th Ward, a Champion for Food Access and Community Gardening

    Alderwoman Marlene Davis is committed to the issues expressed in the survey results above. Davis says, 

    "In neighborhoods with limited food access, residents must leave their neighborhood to access nutritious food. Many of these same neighborhoods have vacant lots, littering our neighborhoods with overgrown weeds and costing our taxpayers thousands to maintain. We can start to address both of these issues by organizing strategic plans for our communities, empowering residents to take back their vacant lots, put the land into productive use, and provide themselves and their neighbors with a source of healthy food."

    We thank her for her commitment to address food access and support food growing activities in the City of St. Louis!


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