JEFFERSON CITY, MO. —  A judge in Missouri ruled on Dec. 15 that the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must stop its enforcement of a new rule related to groundwater pollution and a possible concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Livingston County, Mo.

The proposed 10,500-square-foot CAFO would be run by United Hog Systems with the hogs being owned by JBS USA, according to a report in the Kansas City Star.

In the last few days, a lawsuit was filed against the DNR by Missouri environmental attorney Stephen Jeffrey, with backing from some residents of the county.

The lawsuit questions why the state issued an emergency statement regarding the definition of groundwater. According the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the decisions by the state agency were made without public comment.

“The scope of this emergency amendment is limited to the circumstances creating the emergency and complies with the protections extended in the Missouri and United States Constitutions,” according to the emergency rule by the DNR. “The Department of Natural Resources believes this emergency amendment is fair to all interested persons and parties under the circumstances.”

Current DNR regulations state that CAFOs must be at least two feet above a proposed groundwater table. However, the new rules would not include “perched water table,” which would include the proposed site.

“In March 2020, local residents excavated several shallow borings at the site of the proposed Z-8 Sow Farm,” the lawsuit said. “Four of the shallow excavations showed the presence of groundwater at depths of between two to three feet below ground surface.”

The planned operation is near Poosey Conservation Area within the county of Livingston.