Callaway County Commission to form health ordinance committee

Commissioners respond to petition opposing hog farm

The Callaway County Commission voted during its Friday meeting to create a committee dedicated to determining if the county needs a health ordinance after concerns rose about a potential 10,000 hog facility coming to Kingdom City.

The commissioners did not sign a resolution requesting Eichelberger Farms, Inc. — the Iowa-based company interested in building the hog operation on Horstmeier Farms — to stay out of Callaway County.

With the advice of legal counsel, the committee could consist of experts in the field of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and areas in relation to those facilities.

“We want to make sure we put the committee together the right way, so we’re getting with our legal counsel on that. … We have to do this the right way. We are still in a mode to move in a direction to hopefully, at the end of the day, taking Callaway County’s best interest in hand,” Jungermann told the Fulton Sun.

Jeff Jones, spokesperson for Friends for Responsible Agriculture, a group opposing the hog confinement, handed in a petition to the commissioners mid-July and was given the promise of a response by the end of the month.

More than 1,400 people in Callaway County and beyond signed the petition, expressing concerns listed on the petition:

•“Adverse impact of out-of-state corporate farming on local agriculture;”

•Health effects on Callaway County citizens;

•Air and water pollution within the county;

•Property devaluation;

•“Loss of community values of neighborliness that include: reciprocity, respect, honesty and shared identity;” and

•Negative effects on quality of life and enjoyment for residents within and around Callaway County.

It was Jones’ hope that the commission would have passed a resolution, looking at the precedent other counties have set in relation to CAFOs. Jones said he feels the commissioners feared legal action if they passed a resolution.

“I’m not really surprised,” Jones said. “(The commission had) an opportunity here to do something good and they were scared of a lawsuit. Plain and simple.”

In the time since they received the petition, Jungermann the commissioners have researched hog confinements by visiting similar sites existing in and out of the county, talking with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), looking at DNR’s online information and calling officials in Iowa to discuss Eichelberger Farms’ reputation.

Eastern District Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said he contacted the local water district to see how a possible 10,000-hog facility would affect the water.

“There’s no effect — good, bad, indifferent — expected on the quality or the quantity of our water tables, which is good news,” Kleindienst said, adding that he feels the Department of Natural Resources is equipped to oversee the facility.

He added that he spoke with the director of land use and zoning in Washington County, Iowa, the home base for Eichelberger.

“According to the director there, this company employs local people, pays their taxes and are considered good neighbors and good stewards of the land, and I see (the director) had no reason to fabricate such story to me,” Kleindienst said.

Jungermann added that county residents have approached the commission not necessarily in support of the potential hog site, but with worries about the future effects of a resolution.

“They would also tell us that stopping (the hog facility) was not the county commission’s place,” Jungermann said.

Kleindienst echoed Jungermann’s statement, saying his constituents worried about the commission taking a formal stance on the proposed site.

“And, I don’t find many in this county — especially out in the rural sections — who actually want strict oversight on their small farm activities, but that’s exactly what could happen if we start down this road with this type of resolution,” Kleindienst said. “I find it not immoral, unethical or illegal so I can’t in good conscience sign a resolution asking this operation to not come here.”

Jungermann said the commission “appreciates and respects” the effort of Friends for Responsible Agriculture in forming the petition.


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