Missourians against a proposed hog operation in central Missouri’s Cooper County say they don’t trust the state Department of Natural Resources, lawmakers or company officials to protect their water from manure spills. During a hearing in Tipton, Steve Jeffrey says “massive concrete manure pits can crack and leak” and contaminate ground water.

Photo courtesy of Brownfield Ag News

“This is a problem because the folks who have wells which draw from the aquifer which is potentially contaminated from this, they’re harmed,” he says.

Jeffrey goes on to say Missouri laws have been wrongly changed to relax standards for large animal feeding operations referred to as CAFOs.

Susan Williams says she doesn’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 agency 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.

Barbara Edwards says 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 and works for the Missouri Beef Industry Council says opponents are speaking of CAFOs as if they are something new and in an “apocalyptic fashion.”

“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.”

At the last minute, testimony was given by Carl Edwards, retired NASCAR driver from nearby Columbia, 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 he road could affect – NOT just the hog farmer. It could affect anyone,” says Edwards.

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

By Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News