Doe Run Mining Practices Continue to Devastate Missouri's Rivers

On November 6, 2018, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) submitted supplemental comments on Doe Run’s proposal to permanently redirect the flow of the West Fork of the Black River. MCE’s comments highlight the need for Doe Run to put forward a more robust mitigation plan, especially in light of how much time has elapsed since the damages were made in 2014.

 

The Doe Run Company mines lead and other materials in rural Reynolds County, two hours south of St. Louis. In April 2014, a series of structural failures inside Doe Run’s mines led to sinkholes, flooding, and the company pumping lead, cadmium, and zinc-laden water into the West Fork Black River.

 

Doe Run made an emergency decision to literally move the Black River to avoid the flow from entering the mine itself. At the time, the diversion was meant to be a temporary, emergency response. Now, Doe Run is hoping to make the Black River change permanent.

 

Local communities were understandably alarmed by the sinkholes, one of which threatened the historic West Fork Sutterfield Cemetery. The diversion of the river has dramatically impacted river’s ecology, destroyed aquatic ecosystems, and even caused the popular “Granddaddy” swimming hole to dry up completely.

 

Over the last four years, MCE submitted a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S. Army Corps in order to gather key information about Doe Run’s proposal to permanently divert the Black River and to ensure that the company is accountable for the long-term wetland and ecosystem impacts.

 

MCE submitted initial comments to the proposal in April 2018. Those comments focused on the significant, irreversible impacts to the recreational and aesthetic values of the river if the diversion were to be made permanent. MCE’s April comments also analyzed Doe Run’s proposed mitigation efforts, based on the very limited information presented in the public notice.

 

Ten days after MCE submitted these comments, the Corps released 1,400 pages of documents related to Doe Run’s permit application in response to MCE’s FOIA request. The documents revealed that Doe Run is not doing nearly enough to mitigate the impacts of the environmental destruction caused by the mine’s structural failures and mismanagement.

 

MCE’s supplemental comments were submitted in early November 2018 and are based on the hundreds of released FOIA documents. The supplemental comments highlight the need for Doe Run to put forward a more robust mitigation plan especially in light of how much time has elapsed since the damages were made in 2014. What’s more, the FOIA documents revealed that Doe Run’s mitigation plan relies heavily on mitigation banking -- a system of credits and debits devised to ensure that environmental losses resulting from development are compensated for by preserving and restoring wetlands, native habitats, or streams elsewhere. Instead of purchasing mitigation credits from the closest mitigation bank, Doe Run intends to purchase credits from a mitigation bank nearly 75 miles away, and the company provides no sound rationale for doing so. Choosing the closer mitigation bank would offset the environmental impacts as close to the degraded site as possible and would strengthen the mitigation plan.

 

You can read MCE’s supplemental comment letter to the Corps, urging Doe Run to put forward a more robust mitigation plan HERE.

City of St. Louis Could Build on Previous Healthy Food Access Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13, 2018

Contact: Melissa Vatterott – 314.581.0561 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Alderwoman Cara Spencer – 314.556.7379 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

St. Louis, MO: The Board of Alderman continues to respond to a growing interest in urban agriculture, healthy food access, and keeping money local. Board Bill 140 exempts farmers who sell at farmers’ markets from the city’s business license tax, which is a barrier to entry for many farmers who instead choose to sell their products across the city line, including the Maplewood Farmers’ Market.  

“Our concern is that the city has been less competitive than the county when it comes to farmers’ markets,” said Patrick Horine, manager of the Tower Grove Farmers Market. “On numerous occasions our vendors have expressed their frustration with the current city business license process while letting us know it is easier to operate in the county. The license exemption is a step in aligning the city and county and ensuring a robust farmers market environment across the region.”

The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition works regionally with a focus on improving food access in north St. Louis City and County. It also supports environmentally-responsible farmers reaching new markets with their products across the region, particularly in areas with limited healthy food options. 

“Farmers within 150 miles of St. Louis are interested in finding new buyers for their products while the interest in purchasing locally-grown, fresh produce has grown from city residents of all income levels,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director of Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Director of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. “This growing interest is illustrated by the success of the Double Up Food Bucks program, a dollar-matching program for SNAP recipients to buy locally-grown fruits and vegetables, at venues such as the St. Louis MetroMarket and City Greens Market.” 

Board Bill 140 was perfected by the Board of Alderman on November 9, 2018. A vote by the Board of Alderman and signature of Mayor Krewson is all that is needed for the bill to become law. 

“This bill is the first step in a two-step process of making being a farmer in the City easy, affordable, and in line with St. Louis County,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “The second step will change the permitting process through the City Department of Health.” 

In 2017, the Board of Alderman passed a bill that allows residents to keep up to eight chickens on their property as a way to increase access to local healthy food. The Building Commissioner also issued a policy at the same time allowing residents growing eggs, honey, and produce to sell their products on site from their backyard garden, community garden, or urban farm. The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition conducted a citywide survey in 2016, hearing from 854 residents about their feelings on urban agriculture activities. The results of the survey led to the backyard chicken bill (2017) and on-site sales policy memo from the Building Commissioner (2017). 

View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition citywide urban agriculture survey (2016) here

View MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study (2014) here

Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri. Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love.
MCE’s web address is: 
www.moenvironment.org

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2018 Missouri Election Endorsements

 

MCE engages in the political process when it is necessary to support our values, including the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, eat healthy food, and enjoy public lands.  That is why MCE endorses the following ballot measures for the general election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Find your polling location here.

“Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law” is the motto emblazoned on the Great Seal of the State of Missouri. This motto is rapidly shifting from the welfare of Missouri’s people to the welfare of corporations, near and far. That is why we encourage you, your friends, family, and network to vote yes on the following ballot measures.

Vote YES! – Constitutional Amendment 1 – CLEAN Initiative

The clearest indication of our government pivoting toward corporate interests over the welfare of Missourians is when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) changed its mission statement in 2017.

Old DNR mission statement: “The mission of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is to protect our air, land and water; preserve our unique natural and historic places; and provide recreational and learning opportunities for everyone."

New DNR mission statement: "The mission of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is to protect Missouri's natural resources while promoting the environmentally sound operations of businesses, agriculture and industry in our interactions with the public."

Supporting Amendment 1 will help address corporate influence in our state government by:

  • Changing limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can accept from individuals or entities ($2,500 max for senate, $2,000 max for house, tracks and counts funds from individuals funneled through state party campaign committees);
  • Establishing a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists (only allows gifts under $5);
  • Prohibiting state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of 2 years;
  • Prohibiting fundraising for candidates or members of the legislature on state property;
  • Requiring legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public; and
  • Changing the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment (nonpartisan expert draws fair legislative districts reviewed by a citizen commission).

Volunteer for Clean Missouri here

Our government needs to work for the welfare of the public. Supporting Constitutional Amendment 1 is a step in the right direction.

Vote YES! – Proposition B – Raise the Minimum Wage

MCE is committed to environmental justice. Low wages keep people from being able to access basic rights like clean water, healthy food, safe housing, and public lands. MCE’s work on local food systems revealed how important it is for people to have access to affordable, healthy food, not only for their benefit, but also  to promote local, organic, sustainable agriculture over industrial agriculture. One of the greatest barrier to a healthy lifestyle? Low wages.

If Proposition B is successful, Missouri businesses will incrementally increase the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2023. The current minimum wage is $7.85. If passed, the minimum wage will be increased to $8.60 in 2019 and increase by 85 cents/year until it reaches $12 in 2023.

When people earn higher wages, they can better address transportation barriers needed to purchase healthier food, afford better housing, and spend more time with their families, among many other societal benefits. The working poor sometimes have no other option but to rent homes from slumlords, exposing them to mold and lead hazards. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition provides information on how low wages put stable housing out of reach for thousands of Missourians. Transportation to open spaces, such as parks, are often accessible only by car or long-distance travel, which is not always available to someone making minimum wage.

Volunteer to raise the wage here

Increasing the minimum wage will help low-wage workers increase their purchasing power for healthy food, access to safe housing, and increase the amount of time they can spend with their families enjoying public lands and supporting their communities.

Vote YES! – St. Louis County Charter Amendment Proposition 2 – Yes for our Parks!

Volunteer to work the polls here

YES on Proposition 2 means that land designated and used as a St. Louis County Park shall not be sold, leased, given away or otherwise disposed of without a vote of residents in St. Louis County. YES on Prop. 2 supports the unanimous decision by the St. Louis County Council and signature from Executive Stenger to put this on the ballot. Prop 2 is not a tax. It will not cost taxpayers a cent. Similar laws are already working well in the municipalities of Kirkwood, University City, and Olivette.

MCE Requests Public Hearing on MO & MS Rivers Confluence Permit

July 23, 2018

Mr. Charles Frerker
United States Army Corps of Engineers
Attn: CEMVS-OD-F
1222 Spruce Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63103-2833

Re: P-3093 and P-3098

 

Dear Mr. Frerker:

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) requests a public hearing on Department of the Army permit applications P-3093 and P-3098. These proposals will potentially increase the use of the Confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers for commercial and industrial purposes and could be harmful for environmental, cultural, and historic reasons.

These project proposals may have consequences for Missouri’s floodplain, wetlands, river quality, and wildlife. Furthermore, these projects may degrade the historical, cultural, and recreational value of this particular location as it is the starting point of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, at the confluence of two of America’s greatest rivers, and near a number of recreational areas.


MCE is committed to protecting our state’s abundant and valuable water resources and believe a public hearing on this request should be held in order to:

1. Learn in a public setting the details of the proposal and to hear whether the total barge traffic and storage in the Confluence will increase, decrease, or remain approximately the same if these permits are approved.

2. Ensure that the public has an opportunity to hear firsthand about any potential adverse effects on recreational activities in the historic Confluence and to comment on potential effects.  

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
    

Sincerely,

Maisah Khan  
Water Policy Coordinator
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

 

Get the letter MCE sent to the Army Corps of Engineers here.

 

MCE: Vote No on Prop A - August 7 Primary

Environmental protection depends on the rights of workers to blow the whistle on health, safety, and environmental violations. Therefore, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) stands by labor organizations in opposition to Proposition A on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.  

Labor unions support workers who push back against short-sighted decisions and corporate actions that prioritize profit over people and the environment. For example, enforcement of many environmental and health regulations is possible only because of workers who report them. In many cases, workers are the only ones in a position to report illegal dumping, permit violations, or water contamination. Without strong protections for unions, entire communities are at risk. Strong unions help protect whistleblowers and hold corporations accountable.

Unions also perform important watchdog functions. They have the right to request Health Hazard Evaluations from the Occupational Safety Health Administration, for example.  A worker’s concerns can be elevated more quickly through a union and a union can speak powerfully on behalf of several individuals who may not otherwise be able to advocate for themselves. Missouri’s communities are safer and healthier when workers unionize because safety at work affects not only those on the job, but all people affected by the work. From mine workers to construction workers, refuse haulers and many more, our communities depend on compliance with health, safety, and environmental laws.

MCE stands with labor unions to protect the health and safety of workers and their communities.

“Right-to-work” is wrong for Missouri. Vote no on Proposition A on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

Find your polling place here

MCE Sues Corps of Engineers for Lack of Transparency Under the Freedom of Information Act

St. Louis, MO: On March 23, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) brought suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps). The suit alleges violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

In 2014, the Doe Run Company diverted a branch of the West Fork Black River around one of its mines. The mine’s operations had created a sink hole under the river, causing the mine to flood, and Doe Run sought to avoid the flooding of the mine and the resulting contamination by changing the course of the river. The Corps originally issued an emergency permit allowing Doe Run to divert the river temporarily. There was no public notice and no opportunity for public comment before Doe Run diverted the river, and now Doe Run is seeking to make the diversion permanent. When MCE sought documents related to the company’s application to make the diversion permanent, the Corps refused and claimed they were protected under one of nine FOIA exemptions designed to protect against certain harms that might occur if the documents were disclosed, such as damage to national security interests or interference with law enforcement investigations. FOIA exemptions allow the Corp to withhold these documents despite the FOIA request.

Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE, said, “The right to know is a fundamental component of our democracy. FOIA is one of the most important tools citizens have to know what their government is doing and how decisions are made.”

Specifically, MCE alleges that the Corps has a policy or practice of improperly denying FOIA requests. MCE has found that multiple Corps districts in Missouri regularly refuse to disclose documents related to pending permit applications by claiming that the documents are “predecisional” and thus exempt under FOIA Exemption 5.

In 2013, MCE began looking into certain Clean Water Act permits issued by the Corps, such as the one sought by Doe Run. These permits allow landowners and developers to destroy wetlands. They also require the permittee to propose mitigation, meaning they must submit a plan to restore or create wetlands elsewhere to make up for the wetlands destroyed. The Corps allows the public to submit comments on proposed projects, which it considers when determining whether the work is in the public interest, before issuing permits. MCE regularly submits comments on such projects and the applicants’ proposed mitigation. To better understand projects so it can submit substantive comments, MCE uses FOIA to ask the Corps for the documents submitted by the applicant, as well as communications between the applicant and the Corps about the proposed project.

In many cases, the Corps has refused to release documents to MCE, claiming that all documents related to the project are subject to FOIA Exemption 5. Exemption 5 is designed to protect privileged communications within or between government agencies and does allow a governmental agency to withhold from disclosure “inter-or intra-agency memorandums or letters.” However, it does not allow the agency to withhold documents submitted to it by outside parties, such as the original permit application, nor does it protect communications that the agency has with permit applicants and other outside organizations and people.

“Denying these documents destroys transparency and accountability while eroding the public’s trust in the government’s ability and willingness to act in the public interest,” said Navarro. “The public’s ability to provide meaningful comments is hampered by the Corps’ unlawful use of these FOIA exemptions,” Navarro continued.

MCE has consistently pointed out these limitations on Exemption 5 to no avail. In the past, it filed two lawsuits, and was eventually able to obtain the requested documents, but it did not receive them in time to comment on the proposed project before the Corps issued a permit. The Corps has taken up to 2 years to release requested documents. Nor has the Corps changed its practice in response to MCE’s prior suits.

MCE’s filing asks a federal court to declare that the documents being withheld by the Corps districts in Missouri are not subject to Exemption 5. The lawsuit lists each of the instances where the Corps has refused to disclose these kinds of documents over the last several years.

“MCE filed this action in hopes that this type of court intervention will put an end to the Corps’ misuse of Exemption 5, making it easier for not just MCE, but other citizens and citizen groups, to obtain documents,” said Elizabeth Hubertz, attorney for MCE. 

The case is called Missouri Coalition for the Environment v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 18-cv-00663-TJK (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia). MCE is represented by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis.

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President Trump & Governor Greitens Attempt to Undermine Clean Water Standards for Missouri Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: December 20, 2017

Contacts:

  • Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Peter Goode, Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic Engineer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  •  Heather Navarro, Executive Director, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

St. Louis, MO: President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is considering the implementation of a Missouri plan to reduce pollution in lakes and reservoirs that President Obama’s EPA said would violate the Clean Water Act. The EPA is considering a second option that could be even worse than the proposed plan by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Missouri has failed to enact adequate protections since its standards were disapproved in 2011. The agency posted the draft standards online on December 18, 2017, and they are expected to be published in the next 10-14 days. 

 “The EPA has proposed two alternatives that will do nearly nothing to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in Missouri’s lakes,” said Peter Goode of Washington University’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic. “Both alternatives are reactive and allow water quality to degrade to the point that the water is unsafe. The EPA’s proposals set a poor precedent for protecting human health and the environment.”

The EPA released two alternatives to establish water quality protections for nutrient pollution in Missouri lakes.  The EPA was required to take action by a 2016 lawsuit settlement with MCE. The settlement required EPA develop and implement numeric nutrient water quality standards for Missouri lakes and reservoirs by December 15, 2017, if the state did not develop adequate standards before then. 

“The EPA's proposal is a clear choice in favor of politics over science and ultimately, over the best interests of the public,” said Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

MCE and clean water advocates will continue to engage in the process in support of effective clean water standards during the 60-day comment public period and in the two online public meetings that are scheduled in February 2018. Concerned Missourians can get more information about participating in the public meeting process on MCE’s website here and the EPA’s website here.

MCE is represented by the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic in this matter.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri.  Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org.

The IEC represents non-profit groups, communities, and individuals who are pursuing legal action to protect the environment and community health but who cannot afford the legal representation and scientific expertise this requires. While providing pro bono legal and technical services to environmental and community organizations in Missouri and Illinois, the IEC simultaneously trains law students to handle complex legal cases, enables non-law students to apply their specialized fields to legal and policy issues, and teaches all students to communicate effectively and work productively in an interdisciplinary setting. Its web address is https://law.wustl.edu/intenv/.

MCE Receives USDA Grant to Expand Farm-to-Institution in St. Louis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: October 4, 2017

Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director, (314) 727-0600, ext. 111, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) was selected as a recipient for the USDA Local Food Promotion Program. They will receive approximately $45,000 to support local food efforts in the St. Louis region. MCE convenes the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC), a stakeholder group of organizations working in community development, urban farming, food access, public health, local food sales, and the environment. STLFPC’s mission is to promote a thriving local food system that supports the community, health, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.

The grant provides funding to increase purchasing of local food by public institutions. MCE will conduct a study to identify, assemble the resources, and connections needed to build the system of sourcing of products to area institutions, and thereby increase product sales and local food access for consumers. Some of the short-term impacts include an increase in farmers understanding of the potential profitability of selling locally produced food to institutions as well as for increased understanding of Fair Shares CCSA of the potential for helping member farmers reach new markets. Project staff will specifically assess the 1) demand of locally sourced agricultural products from institutions; 2) regulatory demands of farmers with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) certification training; and 3) available and potential supply from area farmers, including standardization of agricultural products in order to aggregate from farmers of various sizes, defining 10 target agricultural products area farmers can produce to meet the large volume requirements of institutions, and researching models for transportation of products and traceability back to the farmer for consumer awareness. Additionally, the study will promote the farmer narrative to institutions.

“This funding will help us better understand how to meet market demands with local food products,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director at MCE.

"MCE has taken the initiative, through the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, to engage in conversations with us and other farmers in the St. Louis region about how to grow their farm business and reach new markets, such as institutions," says Holly Buck, owner of Rosy Buck Farm in Beaufort, Missouri. "We trust MCE to conduct the necessary outreach and information collection necessary to determine if getting our practices into institutions would be best for us, and the region."

As the St. Louis region thinks about its response to extreme weather events from climate change, such as increased flooding, and its dependence on drought-prone places like California for its food supply, local food provides opportunities for gains in environmental sustainability, nutrition, and public health.


For more information, visit www.moenvrionment.org/.

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City of St. Louis Leads Region with New Urban Agriculture Policies

Dept. of Public Safety Allows Onsite Sales of Produce, Eggs, and Honey

Board of Alderman Vote for Expansion of Backyard Chickens

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Date: July 14, 2017

 

Contact: Melissa Vatterott, (314) 581-0561, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alderwoman Cara Spencer, (314) 556-7379, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, (314) 622-3287, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

St. Louis, MO: The Board of Aldermen voted to allow residents in the City of St. Louis to possess up to 8 chickens depending on the size of the of their property. Board Bill 52 passed by a vote of 22-3 and awaits the signature of Mayor Lyda Krewson before it becomes law. The previous ordinance only allowed up to four animals per city parcel, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits.

 

Mayor Krewson, through the Department of Public Safety, updated existing urban farming policies to allow for the direct, onsite sale of produce and other goods from a home garden, community garden, or urban farm.

 

“Access to healthy food and food security for every neighborhood in the City of St. Louis is more possible today than ever before,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “Mayor Krewson and the Board of Alderman were both key to changing policies that will grow our local food economy and create new economic opportunities for people throughout the city,” she added.

 

More than a year's worth of engaging residents and compiling data by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC) contributed to the complementary policy changes in the city. The STLFPC urban agriculture survey found that residents wanted a minimum spatial requirement for various reasons, including animal welfare, public health and cleanliness, which was incorporated into Board Bill 52.

 

“We are excited to finally have a law that reflects what many residents are already doing,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who introduced Board Bill 52. “Many of my constituents already have a couple of pets and a few chickens in their backyard.”

 

Nearly 100 people surveyed want to be able to sell their produce, honey and eggs from a stand at their home or community garden, which was addressed in the policy change by the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.

 

“Increasing healthy food access while putting more money in the pockets of city residents are part of the tools we need to build stronger and safer communities,” said Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, one of the four co-sponsors of Board Bill 52. “St. Louisans now have clear guidelines about how, where, when, and what can be sold from their property, community garden, or urban farm.”

 

Frank Oswald, Building Commissioner for the City said, “The Building Division’s policy regarding urban agriculture is our way to help see our residents have access to fresh healthy food grown locally.”

 

View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition citywide urban agriculture survey (2016) here.

View MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study (2014) here.

St. Louis Foodshed Study Evaluates the Evolution of Industrial Food Production

Review of Agriculture data from 1925-2007 within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis

St. Louis, MO: A new report called the St. Louis Regional Food Study was released today by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). The study analyzes the impacts of industrial agriculture on our diet, health, and environment. MCE looked at 59 counties within a 100-mile radius around the City of St. Louis using agricultural data from 1925-2007, called a “foodshed.” 

The report found that only one tenth of one percent of cropland in the 100-mile radius is dedicated to non-commodity fruits and vegetables. “The St. Louis foodshed had more than six times the number of acres growing fruits and vegetables in 1925 than we do today,” said Melissa Vatterott, lead author of the study. “We have the opportunity to feed our region but instead we are growing corn and soy that are used as fuel, animal feed or unhealthy, processed foods.” 

Starting in 2012, MCE gathered an array of county-based data that relates to our health, the environment, our food, and the local economy in St. Louis and surrounding 58 counties. The St. Louis foodshed spends over $17 billion annually on food, with much of the money leaving the region to pay for processing, packaging, transportation, and other costs associated with our national industrialized food system. 

“The higher per-unit cost of raising a tomato on a small farm in our foodshed puts local tomatoes at a cost disadvantage compared to the economies of hundreds-acre tomato plantations in Florida, Mexico, and Texas,” said Andy Ayers, a local food entrepreneur. “This is directly related to artificially low petroleum prices from the fertilizers and pesticides used by the mono-crop farms to the diesel fuel the 18-wheelers use to bring produce into this market.” 

“We hope the foodshed study increases collaborations with local farmers, food providers, health advocates and people who care about creating a local food system that benefits our health, economy, and environment,” said Vatterott. “The Missouri Coalition for the Environment looks forward to helping create this vision.” 

More information on the Foodshed Study can be found here: here

 

 

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