***UPDATE | AUGUST, 19, 2019***
We were surprised to learn of the sudden closure of the Valley Oaks Steak Company. The past year and a half has been incredibly taxing on our Board of Directors, staff, and the surrounding community as we have navigated the threat of a possible expansion of their contained animal feeding operation. The expansion proposed an increase in the number of cattle on their 400 acres from nearly 900 to 6,999. The approval of this expansion would have made them the largest beef cafo in the state of Missouri. The size, the scope of operations (the company would house, slaughter and sell product all from the same site), and the close proximity of the facility to Powell Gardens, a non-profit botanical garden and cultural treasure, and to nearly 800 homes in the residential heart of Lone Jack, Mo, were among the many reasons why legal action against the expansion was pursued. We are currently awaiting Valley Oaks’ confirmation of their closure with the judges in all pending legal actions. Thank you very much for your continued support as we pursued this fight.
Valley Oaks Steak Company, LLC, located on 50 Highway just three miles from Powell Gardens and about the same distance from downtown Lone Jack, is currently in the planning phase of expanding their confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). The expansion they have proposed will include housing and processing of cattle and will increase the number of cattle on their 400 acres from nearly 900 to 6,999.
***Clean Water Commission Meeting***
Monday, December 10 | 10-3 p.m.
We are encouraging the community to attend the Missouri Clean Water Commission meeting scheduled for Monday, December 10th from 10 am to 3 pm. The Clean Water Commission will convene at 1730 East Elem Street, Jefferson City, MO to address the permit for Valley Oaks. Attendance will support the Administrative Hearing Commission’s recommendation to reverse the permit issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to Valley Oaks, Inc. In October, the AHC determined that the permit issuance was not in compliance with Missouri law and was not protective of water quality near Kansas City’s botanical gardens and the surrounding community.
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.
The final permit hearing was August 27-28, 2018 in Jefferson City.
Order to Stay the Permit
Updated July 30, 2018
What has happened?
The Administrative Hearing Commission has GRANTED our request to stay or suspend the Valley Oaks expansion permit until the appeal is decided.
What does this mean?
This means that, based on the evidence presented so far, the Commission agrees that the permit was issued improperly and that irreparable harm to waters of the state will occur if the permit is issued as-is. Valley Oaks currently does not have a permit to operate a CAFO beyond 999 cattle.
– The Commission has scheduled the final hearing on the permit for August 27, 2018 in Jefferson City.
Original Permit Decision
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources approved the Valley Oak’s expansion Permit on June 15, 2018.
Statement from Powell Gardens CEO/President, Tabitha Schmidt: “We are disappointed that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has made such a detrimental decision against the interest of our natural resources and public health. We will be pursuing all available recourse to protect our public treasure.”
Powell Gardens has filed for an injunction and will be filing an administrative appeal in response to the Missouri Department of Natural Resource’s issuance of an operating permit to Valley Oaks Steak Company for a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO).
You can support opposition to this expansion by BECOMING A MEMBER or make a donation to our operations.
What are we protecting?
Powell Gardens is a 970-acre facility with 100 maintained botanical acres, housing a living museum of plant collections, architecture designed by world-renowned architect E. Fay Jones and offering events, classes, and respite to an average of 100,000 visitors each year. The land, purchased by the Powell Family in 1948, was incorporated as the non-profit cultural landmark it is today, in 1988.
An Aerial View of Kansas City’s Botanical Garden
The acronym stands for “confined animal feeding operation,” a modern agricultural practice of raising livestock in a confined space, such as “a lot, building or complex.” The animals are not put out to pasture; instead, the cattle, hogs or chickens are fed grain to “finish,” or fatten rapidly for slaughter.
For cattle, there are four CAFO classifications, based on number: Class 1A is 7,000 head or above; a Class 1B is 3,000 to 6,999; a Class 1C is 1,000-2,999; and a Class II is 300 to 999.
The CAFO is located three miles west of a botanical natural resource of pristine beauty with 6,000 plant varieties. The gardens and its attractions, including a chapel built by a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright where 50 weddings are performed each year, and more than 100,000 visitors each year.
CAFOs are a concern due to the unknown impacts of human health and wellness and environmental impact, including odor, air quality, ground and surface water contamination, potential pest infestations, wear and tear on rural infrastructure with substantial increases in truck traffic and a decrease in home values.
The Valley Oaks CAFO is unprecedented in Missouri because it would be the largest in the state and includes a slaughterhouse, rendering plant and retail sales on a tract of land within the boundaries of an established community, including a regionally significant botanical preserve marking its 30th anniversary and more than 880 homes.
Most are located far from densely populated communities. Valley Oaks Steak Co., is seeking to serve the Kansas City metro area. The site is located within 15 minutes of Lee’s Summit, part of the Kansas City metro area.
A family farm is owned and operated by a local family. Some of the family farms in the Lone Jack area are further classified as Centennial Farms, farmsteads settled 100 years ago, or more, and owned through the generations by the same family. Valley Oaks is a LLC, or limited liability corporation.
A CAFO is referred to as a factory farm because it confines animals outside of their habitat, an effort to streamline processes and maximizing output, often at the expense of the animal’s well-being. Confinement means the cattle do not have access to pasture. Confined animals are often stressed animals. Close quarters also can create conditions for disease to spread, often requiring the use of artificial hormones, steroids and antibiotics to maintain the health of the animals. Huge amounts of waste – including manure, urine, feces, plus blood and carcasses – must be disposed.
A facility for holding feces, urine, blood and bedding. The lagoon may be lined or unlined. If not well-managed, lagoons are subject to leakage, groundwater contamination or overflow that may contaminate nearby water sources.
Rendering: A process that converts animal wastes into usable products by separating the fat from the proteins. Bones and lard are by-products of rendering, but Wikipedia also notes that the job of renderer has appeared on ABC News’ list of “The Seven Dirtiest Jobs.”
Sprayfield: Land that is fertilized with liquid manure, releasing airborne particulates that effect air quality, water quality and human health conditions such as asthma.
Based on the numbers contained in the permit application submitted to Missouri Department of Natural Resources by Valley Oaks Steak Co., our experts have calculated that 6,999 cattle will generate approximately 221 tons of feces, urine and bedding per day or 1,547 tons per week.
The waste will be contained in earthen lagoons, applied to the surrounding fields as manure and trucked to undisclosed facilities. Land application means odor-causing particulates will be dispersed in the air. Odor is an unavoidable by-product of such an operation, a Valley Oaks spokesperson has told the media and state officials.
Powell Gardens is actively opposing the expansion, as is the citizen group Lone Jack Neighbors.
In April, a hearing regarding the permit application drew almost 1,000 letter writers who submitted objections to the DNR and nearly 600 who traveled to Warrensburg, Mo., to voice their concerns.
The Kansas City Star editorial board also opposes the expansion and Kansas City chefs who practice farm-to-table dining have severed ties with the company.
The Garden Conservancy in Garrison, New York, has joined a growing number of Powell Gardens supporters citing it as “a part of our cultural heritage and an asset to the people of the greater Kansas City region and as such, it is worthy of protection.”
After hundreds of questions and concerns regarding the expansion permit were submitted, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing, in April 3, 2018, at the Warrensburg Community Center to allow further public comment. The capacity of the room reserved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources was 200, nearly 600 community members were in attendance. The video below highlights select comments from residents of the Lone Jack Community and supporters of Powell Gardens. Links to media coverage of the hearing are also provided.