Powell Gardens’ request for a stay to halt the expansion of Valley Oaks Steak Co.’s confined animal feeding operation has been granted.

The CAFO received an operating permit issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on June 15 to ramp up its feedlot from 1,000 to 6,999 head of cattle.

Powell Gardens filed an injunction citing the potential for irreparable harm to its 970 acres of gardens and thousands of species of plants, including some that are endangered.

“Powell Gardens couldn’t be more thrilled with this result,” says Tabitha Schmidt, CEO and President. “It is just the first victory in our fight, but it validates the concerns of the Gardens and the community.”

Powell Gardens and nearly 1,400 petitioners from Lone Jack and the surrounding community have expressed their concerns about the proposed operation’s impact on water quality.

The 6,999 head of beef cattle housed in six open-air sheds will produce 111,134 tons of manure and urine per year. Valley Oaks is required to have 180 days of storage capacity for the waste.

But Missouri’s Administrative Hearing Commission found the approved plan would stack compacted manure up to 2.3 feet high, the same height as the containment walls, burying the animals only source of drinking water and spilling outside of the six open-sided confinement pens onto the soil, potentially contaminating local water sources.

Valley Oaks owner David Ward told the Commission he was in the process of building more storage. The order states: “This does not change the fact that Valley Oaks is not permitted for a partially completed facility. And its plans for additional construction and additional animals are subject to change at the whim of Ward, a developer who has no experience operating a CAFO.”

The order also contains information about legal violations related to other Ward business operations, including falsified forms related to a storm water permit to the Environmental Protection Agency, for which he received a criminal penalty and fined $90,000, as well as a civil penalty of $13,500 for violations of the Missouri Clean Water Law.

The Commission has scheduled a final hearing on the permit for Aug. 27, 2018, in Jefferson City.

“We will vigorously present our evidence showing that the permit was improperly issued by DNR and, as reflected by the Commission’s order today, we believe that the Commission will agree,” says Powell Garden’s lawyer Aimee Davenport, a partner of Stinson Leonard Street LLP.

To read full document from Administrative Hearing Commission: https://ahcportal.mo.gov/docs/357650882/71282.PDF