Five Truman State University students have lost their jobs over a farm odor dispute. The jobs stem from an ongoing dispute between the Missouri government and Premium Standard Farms. For the past twenty years, Premium Standard Farms has been fighting odor complaints. Over those two decades, Premium Standard Farms has lost multiple lawsuits and has paid millions of dollars in judgments and rulings against them.
After the most recent series of judgments, Premium Standard reached an agreement with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Premium Standard was given two years to fix the odor problems through the installation of odor reducing technologies in hundreds of farms across the state. After two years inspectors would visit the farms to ensure that appropriate measures had been taken to reduce odors.
It was these inspections that led to the job controversy. Like many state agencies across the country, Missouri’s Department of Agriculture has suffered from budget cuts. As a result, it does not have the resources to respond quickly to odor complaints.
In an effort to reduce spending and offset high budgets, the Attorney General’s office approached Truman State University, offering a $20,000 grant to train students. After signing the contract and training the five students in question, Koster informed Premium Standards of the new program. However, after Premium Standard registered their displeasure over the use of university students rather than trained professionals from the Department of Agriculture, the president of the university cancelled the program.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer