Missouri sow farm project divides county residents

The chairwoman of the Cooper County Health Board says no additional ordinances from her board are planned that would stand in the way of a proposed confined animal feeding operation in that county.

Pipestone Systems wants to build a 7000-sow CAFO in Cooper County.  The proposal has created divisions between those who support the move and those concerned about the number of hogs in one location.  County Health Board Chairwoman Patty Dick tells Brownfield the board’s obligation is to county citizens.

“We’re trying to make sure that when and if this new facility comes in, it has protections in place to avoid spills or any other contamination,” Dick told Brownfield Ag News following the board’s public meeting Thursday in Booneville, Missouri.

The Pipestone farrowing operation, known as the Tipton East project, would employ 17 people full-time, plus others part-time, to produce 160,000 weaned piglets annually, using $1.7 million dollars’ worth of locally sourced feedstuffs, according to Pipestone.

Among other issues that concern citizens opposed to the project is the planned application of hog manure on local farms.  The Cooper County, Missouri farrowing operation is projected, according to Pipestone’s estimates, to produce enough organic nutrients for 1,200 acres annually at a value of $200,000.

“When we did our calculations on that, looking at nitrogen, phosphate and potash, the value is somewhere between $100 and $150 an acre, depending on the prices of chemical fertilizer,” said Dean Gibson, the farmer who wants to sell 25 acres of his Cooper County farm to Pipestone Systems, partly in exchange for getting some of the manure that is to be generated by the hogs housed in the facility.

The company’s nutrient management plan is to be monitored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, according to Pipestone Systems.

A Pipestone representative at Thursday’s health board meeting assured board members and concerned county residents that the hog production company is a responsible neighbor where manure management is concerned.  Despite what the representative described as a hole in Missouri statutes exempting an operation of this size and scope from rules followed by other farms, Pipestone Holdings Vice-President Sean Simpson told Brownfield Ag News the company will operate by the same rules as other farms.

“They’re best practices; they’re things that should be done,” said Simpson, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News at Thursday’s meeting.  “If you’re a steward of the environment, they’re things that should be done, so we intend to follow those [rules].”

Health Board Chairwoman Patty Dick says that assurance is what she’s looking for.

“To me,” said Dick, “that would be a good outcome.”

AUDIO: Patty Dick (3 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Sean Simpson (1 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Dean Gibson (4 min. MP3)

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