Hog confinement opposition to circulate petition

Horstmeier Farms’ hog confinement consists of eight buildings and less than 2,000 pigs are currently. Eichelberger Farms, Inc., an Iowa-based company, could build a site with a total capacity of 7,600 sows and 2,720 swine.

Horstmeier Farms’ hog confinement consists of eight buildings and less than 2,000 pigs are currently. Eichelberger Farms, Inc., an Iowa-based company, could build a site with a total capacity of 7,600 sows and 2,720 swine. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

KINGDOM CITY — A group of residents living near a potential hog confinement site in Callaway County have organized under an official name are taking action against what they believe could be a harm to the community.

The residents, now operating under the name “Friends of Responsible Agriculture,” will pass around a petition opposing the hog confinement site — which could house up to 7,600 sows and 2,720 swine — starting Wednesday.

Residents living within a 3,000-foot radius of the 20-acre Horstmeier Farms received a letter from The Pinnacle Group — a firm representing Eichelberger Farms, an Iowa-based company interested in establishing the hog confinement or concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).

Jeff Jones, spokesman for “Friends of Responsible Agriculture,” said the group is acting on advice from its hired attorney, Ann Hagan of the law firm Hagan & Maxwell, LLC in Mexico, after he and others heard rumblings that there was “not much opposition” to the hog farm.

“The petition will put that in black and white,” Jones said.

Jones said group members will be going door to door informing people of the hog confinement and sharing concerns while asking for signatures. The petition will not be limited to the Kingdom City area, Jones said, and “everybody is welcomed to sign who is concerned about these CAFOs coming in.”

He added that he’s unsure of exactly how long the petition will be available for signatures, but guessed a time frame of 10 days.

“We want … to use (our) attorney’s advice to handle the situation in a respectful way,” Jones said.

Jones said his hope remains the same as it always has — for Eichelberger Farms to take the operation to a less populated area.

Darren Horstmeier, the son of the father-son duo operating Horstmeier Farms, gave no comment to the Fulton Sun, but did say he has not yet hired an attorney.

Eichelberger Farms is a part of owner of the St. Joseph-based company Triumph Foods, which according Successful Farming Magazine was the second-largest U.S. sow producer in 2013 with 381,500 sows. Eichelberger Farms is one of five companies tallying Triumph’s number, and contributes the least amount of sows at 30,000 in 2013.

Eichelberger Farms had not submitted a permit application to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as of Monday.

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