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Instead Of Expanding, A Cattle Feedlot Near Powell Gardens Shut Its Doors

040318_AT_valleyoaks.JPG
Andrea Tudhope
/
KCUR 89.3 file photo
At a June 2018 public hearing on the proposed Valley Oaks cattle feedlot expansion, rancher Kevin Mannering (left) wears a sticker that reads 'YES... Family Farms.'

A cattle slaughterhouse and feedlot near Powell Gardens says it has closed instead of keeping up a drawn-out legal battle over its planned expansion.

Valley Oaks Steak Company, which had been around since 2016, wanted to expand the number of cattle it finishes and processes from 600 to nearly 6,999. But the Jackson County business said in a Facebook post Monday that it shut down due to mounting costs from legal battles, and also blamed a “fear-mongering” campaign. 

Residents and Powell Gardens had raised concerns about the proposed expansion’s effect on air and water quality, filing suits in Jackson County Court.  Valley Oaks said that opponents threatened and slandered the company. 

Powell Gardens CEO and President Tabitha Schmidt said she was disheartened about the Valley Oaks’ characterization of opposition. 

“I just found out [about the company’s closing] a couple of hours ago, and it was a complete shock,” Schmidt said Monday. “We had zero idea that that was even a possibility.” 

Karen Lux farmed about a mile from Valley Oaks and told KCUR in 2018  that she was concerned the Missouri Department of Natural Resources doesn't have tighter regulations on concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. 

Valley Oaks Steak Company did not immediately respond to a request to comment on Monday. But in its Facebook post, it said it had become “a lightning rod for individuals and organizations opposed to animal agriculture operations. 

“While we understand there were skeptics of our approach, Valley Oaks became a target for groups that used us to advance their own fundraising campaigns.”

The company employs about 80 people. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter: @avivaokeson.

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