On July 9, 2018; the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission held the “Stay Hearing” that was requested by Lone Jack Neighbors for Responsible Agriculture and Powell Gardens/Ryan & Elizabeth Deich. From that hearing, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission issued the Order to Stay on July 26th. The Order to Stay required Valley Oaks Steak Company to revert their operation back to pre-permit conditions, which included removing any cattle above 999 from the premises.
The order granting the “Stay” stated a “Certificate of No Record”, dated June 27, 2018; from the Missouri Secretary of State indicating that no entity named “Country Club Homes, LLC, 1120 NE Eagle Ridge Blvd., Grain Valley, MO 64029” exists. “Country Club Homes, LLC” is the entity that DNR issued a CAFO Permit on June 15, 2018. One of the requirements to receive the permit from the DNR is the entity must be registered and in good standing with the Missouri Secretary of State, “Country Club, LLC” was not registered, and therefore also not in good standing.
At the hearing, in front of the Administrative Hearing Commission, on July 9th David Ward testified that he was a member in Woodbury Homes, LLC and on May 30, 2007, he entered a guilty plea with the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, on behalf of Woodbury Homes, LLC, to a charge concerning the submission of a falsified form to the Environmental Protection Agency. The falsified form concerned a storm water permit, and that Woodbury Homes, LLC, paid a fine of over $90,000.
David Ward continued his testimony at the hearing and stated that he was a partner in Ward Investments, Inc., and that in 2004, Ward Investments, Inc. paid a civil penalty of $13,500 for violations of the Missouri Clean Water Law. The Missouri Clean Water Law, violated by Ward Investments, Inc., is the same law that Valley Oaks Steak Company is expected to abide by under the permit issued by the DNR, and “Stayed” by the Administrative Hearing Commission.
In the July 9th hearing it was also brought out that Valley Oaks did not have enough manure storage. It was suggested that they plan to use the cattle confinement barns for storage of manure up to the depth of 2.3 feet, which is the height of the walls.
At this depth, the animals’ drinking sources will be buried in compacted manure, and manure will inevitably spill outside of the open confinement pens.
Lone Jack Neighbors, along with Powell Gardens support farming. Many members of both organizations are farmers and own family farms. There has never been a known complaint that these organizations are aware of, regarding their local farmers and their operations, but there have been several complaints filed by residences within 1.5 to 2 miles of the Valley Oaks operation of the noxious odor since the permit was issued. What makes this particularly concerning is that this facility is nowhere near full capacity and citizens are already having to deal with the extreme odors. As more cattle come into this factory, where they will be fed out and slaughtered, the odors and pollutants will increase and have a good likelihood of traveling further than they are now.
On August 1st Lone Jack Neighbors filed a Motion of Contempt with the Missouri State Administrative Hearing Commission against, Valley Oaks Steak Company. This Motion was in response to a public announcement made by Valley Oaks on their business Facebook page, July 31. In the since deleted post Valley Oaks stated their intention to not abide by the Order to Stay issued by the AHC. The Order requires Valley Oaks to return its facility to an unpermitted state. This would require that Valley Oaks remove any cattle in excess of 999 from its property, until a ruling is made at the Appeal Hearing. That Hearing is scheduled for August 27th.
Since the Order to Stay was issued on July 26th, Lone Jack Neighbors, its members and supporters, have not observed any activity that indicates Valley Oaks intends to comply with the Order and the post made on Facebook was representative of their fears, Valley Oaks had no intention to do so.
On August 6th, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed a Motion to Reconsider Stay Order and on August 7th, Valley Oaks filed a Motion to Dismiss Lone Jack Neighbors Appeal with the Administrative Hearing Commission. The AHC responded and denied both motions on August 14th.
With the AHC denying to revoke their issuance of the “Stay” Valley Oaks is still required to comply with the Order to Stay, which as of August 15th (20 days after the “Stay” was issued) Valley Oaks has failed to do.