LONE JACK, Mo. – Valley Oaks Steak Co. responded to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) granting a stay on its cattle expansion project in Lone Jack, Missouri.

On July 31, the company stated on Facebook its position on the matter.

“We believe that MDNR (Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources) appropriately followed all laws in issuing the permit, and accordingly, we intervened in the administrative case to make our voice heard,” the company said. “While the AHC is the administrative body that holds a hearing on the appeal, it is not the final decision maker as to whether the permit was correctly issued by MDNR.” 

Valley Oaks explained that the stay filed is against the MDNR and not the company itself. The final hearing to resolve the dispute is set for Aug. 27 in Jefferson City, Missouri.

“The final determination of whether the permit was correctly issued will be made by the Missouri Clean Water Commission (CWC),” the company said. “However, the AHC recently attempted to issue an order to MDNR to stay the permit issuance. Despite doing so, it does not appear that the AHC has the legal authority to issue a stay of MDNR’s permit issuance in this type of proceeding. The parties are currently evaluating the legal options available to correct the situation. In the meantime, Valley Oaks will continue to operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

The stay says that Valley Oaks invested around $20 million into the expansion project already and expects to invest an additional $10 million to complete the other concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) buildings.

On June 15, The Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources issued a permit for Valley Oaks Steak to increase the number of cattle it can maintain in its animal feedlot operation to 6,999.

The current limit is 999 head of cattle. In the stay, Valley Oaks also stated that it plans on adding 2,600 head of cattle by the end of 2018. The company is already in a five-year, $55 million contract with Scavuzzo’s Food Delivery Service in Kansas.

Missouri DNR granted a Class IB NPDES permit to Valley Oaks Steak at the Lone Jack facility, which makes it subject to concentrated animal feeding operations regulations and permit requirements. The government agency also said that their staff reviewed the application for completeness and compliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law and the Missouri Clean Water Commission regulations.

According to the stay, Powell Gardens Inc., Ryan and Elizabeth Deich, and the Robert M. Chamness Trust filed a complaint on June 27 appealing the same permit.

Next on July 3, Valley Oaks filed a motion to intervene in both cases which were granted. During a hearing on July 9, the commission held a combined hearing to discuss their decision with all parties concerned.

Valley Oaks claims that 47 employees could be laid off if the stay remains. The company also said that “costs for debt services and utilities will not cease” with the stay.

In June, Valley Oaks expected the expansion to create more than 50 jobs. According to its permit request, Valley Oaks Steaks plans to blend the feedlot’s manure with wood chips and store it in a warehouse to be processed into fertilizer.

Powell Gardens, a botanical garden nearby, claimed in their appeal that they opposed expansion because of possible odor, water quality and plant-harming parasites that could linger from the expanded livestock facility. There are also about 800 homes within three miles of the feedlot.