Powell Gardens’ request to halt the expansion of the Valley Oaks Steak Co.’s confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) has been granted by Missouri’s Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC).
On Tuesday, the AHC recommended to reverse the permit issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to Valley Oaks CAFO, determining that it was not in compliance with Missouri law and was not protective of water quality near Kansas City’s botanical gardens and the surrounding community. The AHC found that Valley Oaks Steak Co., failed to base its land application plan on realistic data, which would lead to the over-applying of manure on nearby fields, and Valley Oaks failed to provide adequate storage for the 106,000 tons manure that will be generated annually, among other violations.
“Powell Gardens is thrilled with the outcome after careful deliberation by the AHC. We are now calling on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to step in and revoke the current operating permit,” says Tabitha Schmidt, CEO and president.
The final decision on this appeal rests with the Missouri Clean Water Commission. Under state law, the CWC has until December 22, 2018, to adopt, change or vacate the recommended decision of the AHC. If the AHC’s recommendation invalidating the permit is overturned by the CWC, state law requires the CWC to provide specific reasons for the change.
”We believe the AHC has interpreted Missouri law correctly and has reached the right outcome for the Gardens and area residents. Thus, we are hopeful that the CWC will respect the recommendation of its hearing commission in determining that this CAFO is not lawful.” says Aimee Davenport, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP.
If the recommendation is overturned by the CWC, the expansion will make Valley Oaks the largest beef CAFO in the state.
Powell Gardens has also filed for an injunction in July in Jackson County Circuit Court citing the potential for irreparable harm to its 970 acres of gardens and thousands of species of plants after Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a permit to allow the feedlot to increase from 1,000 to 6,999 head of cattle.
Powell Gardens’ concerns over the Class IB CAFO operations were voiced along with nearly 1,400 petitioners from Lone Jack and the surrounding community at a hearing last spring. Concerns included environmental and human health concerns related to water quality, air pollution, as well as increased traffic, strain on infrastructure and declining property values.
Powell Gardens remains vigilant concerning the negative effects of future CAFOs that may consider locating in Johnson County in the future.
Image – Courtesy of Powell Gardens
Google Map – Powell Gardens, Kansas City