CAFO opponents have strong turnout at DNR hearing

Citizens opposed to a proposed hog operation in central Missouri’s Cooper County have told the state Department of Natural Resources they don’t trust the agency, lawmakers or company owners to keep their water safe from manure spills. Last night’s hearing room at the Tipton Country Club was filled with mostly opponents, led by Steve Jeffrey who testified that massive concrete manure pits can crack and leak, “This is a problem because the folks who have wells which draw from the aquifer which is potentially contaminated from this, they’re harmed.” Jeffrey also said Missouri laws have been wrongly changed to relax standards for CAFOs.

Opponent Susan Williams says they don’t want a Pipestone hog facility to taint Missouri the way the company’s hog farms have harmed Iowa and Minnesota, “What benefit is there to our area to build facilities to raise animals to feed the world if, in the meantime, our clean environment is destroyed due to absence of oversight on the part of DNR and our county commission? Who benefits? NOT southern Cooper County. Thank you. {applause}” Several opponents called for geological studies because of the “karst” cave-like cartography in the area, saying it is susceptible to ground water pollutants. Williams, and others, complained the DNR did not take a well within 300 feet of the proposed site into consideration, nor the presence of a fault-line and, therefore, should void the permit for Pipestone. Opponent Barbara Edwards said pathogens in the hog manure that would be spread for fertilizer would become airborne, likening it to radiation from Chernobyl, causing risk to residents near and far.

Taylor Tuttle, who raises livestock in the county, says opponents are speaking of CAFOs as if they are something new and in an “apocalyptic” fashion, adding, “There are over 450 permitted CAFOs in the state of Missouri and all of those are regulated by DNR. And, those include ones that are owned by family farms OR corporate farms.” Tuttle was among several who voiced support for the DNR permit for Tipton East.

Carl Edwards at DNR permit hearing for Tipton East

At the last minute, testimony was given by Carl Edwards, retired NASCAR driver from nearby Columbia, Missouri, who arrived late. Edwards said there can be unintended consequences of too much regulation, “I recognize you guys have a lot of experience with these things, a lot more knowledge than I do, but to consider that asking for more regulation, asking for these things, down the road could affect – NOT just the hog farmer. It could affect anyone.” Edwards owns farmland in Cooper County.

DNR officials say all comments on the draft water permit for the proposed Tipton East hog operation will be weighed equally.

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