Along U.S. Highway 50 in western Johnson County, Missouri:
As announced via social media (and reported on by Kansas City metro area news sources) the Valley Oaks Steak Company will be ceasing operations at their facility in western Johnson County.
It is with profound sadness that, due to economics, we are closing operations of Valley Oaks Steak Company in Johnson County, Missouri.
Unfortunately, Valley Oaks became 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. For example, Powell Gardens organized a fear-mongering campaign against our operation – when in reality, Valley Oaks and Powell Gardens are not in the same watershed, nor were their botanical gardens ever in danger of being affected. Powell Gardens publicly claimed flies from our operation would damage vegetation in their gardens. Those claims were false. Science experts concluded that flies which feed on cattle manure are not a species that destroy vegetation, nor do they travel great distances. Furthermore, the species of flies Powell Gardens told the public that would destroy their plants and gardens are attracted only to hog operations, not cattle. Not one single plant-eating fly has ever been shown to exist at our facility.
In our view, opponents engaged in fear-mongering for their own economic benefit, or simply pre-judged Valley Oaks based on inaccurate information. Instead of examining the science and visiting our facility to see the reality for themselves, we and our families were made the subject of relentless personal attacks. Valley Oaks is not a large faceless corporation with unknown and distant directors and shareholders, but is a group of local family members who sought to provide regionally and sustainably-produced beef to the public. Unfortunately, we have been stalked, threatened, and slandered. Our children have been targeted, bullied and threatened. Several of our cattle were shot dead in the field, no doubt as a warning to us.
We believe in the court system and looked forward to having our day in court, so that we could prove to a jury and the public that we love our community and that our approach to agribusiness was not a nuisance but was environmentally sound, sustainable, and promoted local and regional agriculture. In short, Valley Oaks was a model for how animal agriculture should be conducted. Sadly, the economics of doing so did not work out for us due to the constant barrage of legal battles and extensive marketing efforts needed to counter misinformation.
We are closing Valley Oaks Steak Company effective immediately. [….]
Wait, were all those signs opposed to the CAFO were put up by Powell Gardens? Aren’t there several hundred other “neighbors”? You know, people involved in agriculture? Just asking.
Powell Gardens, one of the opponents of the CAFO expansion issued the following statement via social media:
We were surprised to learn of the sudden closure of the Valley Oaks Steak Company. The past year and a half has been incredibly taxing on our Board of Directors, staff, and the surrounding community as we have navigated the threat of a possible expansion of their contained animal feeding operation. The expansion proposed an increase in the number of cattle on their 400 acres from nearly 900 to 6,999. The approval of this expansion would have made them the largest beef cafo in the state of Missouri. The size, the scope of operations (the company would house, slaughter and sell product all from the same site), and the close proximity of the facility to Powell Gardens, a non-profit botanical garden, and to nearly 800 homes in the residential heart of Lone Jack, Mo, were among the many reasons why legal action against the expansion was pursued. We are currently awaiting Valley Oaks’ confirmation of their closure with the judges in all pending legal actions. Thank you very much for your continued support as we pursued this fight.
There are some interesting responses:
Congratulations and thanks for fighting the good fight, Powell Gardens! Much appreciated. If a single business wants to ruin hundreds of homeowners’ land and property values and they want to spoil a beautiful natural habitat that a wider community has come to love, I guess that business is free to pack up and try doing that elsewhere.
[….]It’s sad that we are so divided that those with sympathy for 80 people without jobs find none for 800 families losing home value and the ability to enjoy their homes. And to the employees and staff of Powell Gardens who have dealt with all the stress of this mess. I don’t feel that this is over by any means. We haven’t heard the last of this.
Thank you, Powell Gardens. The arrogance and bullying of those involved in this CAFO system are unbelievable. VO could have established a similar operation in a more suitable location, with the proper amount of land and environmental protection, but chose to force it upon a populated area,. It is time for those who support these massive operations to stop trying to bully citizens and legislators everywhere and deal with the side effects in responsible and ethical ways.
Maybe, just maybe, Valley Oaks bit off more than they could chew by lying about their manure storage capacity and the likeliness of water contamination–not to mention threatening the livelihoods of at least 141 local property owners and their families. Deep breathes, fresh air, and a new day!
I have been surprised at the negative comments towards Powell Gardens. Powell Gardens is not the evil entity as portrayed by many commentors. They exercised their right to petition in the courts what they and many others of the community felt was a wrong. A feed lot may be a necessary evil for beef production but this, in my opinion, is NOT the place to create one.
I will no longer support Powell gardens !!! When it becomes more important for a basket full of liberals to smell the flowers instead of supporting the basics of our economy is when you realize just how dangerous it is to let a business like Powell gardens grow and become large !!!! I will make sure to spread the word that you do not support agriculture and I will go out of my way to make sure people understand when they spend a dollar at your facility that it is a dollar going towards the death of small farming !!!!!
You think they ever did support Powell Gardens? Just asking.
Glad they did not bother you. But in truth they never got to full capacity. I lived less than 1/2 mile from VO and had many friends and neighbors, some who farmed and ranched for generations who were driven indoors during some summer days from the stench. I did not anticipate success vs. VO so I moved from my home of 18 years. I don’t condone any “asshole response” but that is to include all those bashing PG not for their response, but for helping the hundreds of families affected!
Shame on you Powell Gardens! My family and I will never be giving your pathetic organization another penny of our business again. I am marrying into a farming family and I can see how greatly this impacts not only the farmers, but the 80 people who were employed by Valley Oaks who suddenly had no job without warning… 80 people woke up this morning learning that they have no way of supporting their families any longer. Can you imagine how scary that may be for some? Of course you don’t, because you are the reason for these 80 people being out of work without any sort of heads up. Powell Gardens is a pathetic excuse of an organization. Support your local farmers!
F*&K YOU Powel Gardens. Liberal idiots. Can’t wait for the lawsuits to start here. Don’t mess with American agriculture you bunny huggers.
Well, alrighty then.
Now that’s a CAFO (March 18, 2018)
And they have a CAFO (June 15, 2018)
Powell Gardens – CAFO permit stayed pending outcome of appeal (July 28, 2018)
AG Josh Hawley (r): CAFO manure trumps Powell Gardens (September 1, 2018)
Are CAFOs healthy for children and other living things? (March 28, 2019)
Sen. Denny Hoskins (r): regulated land use is evil, until it isn’t (August 12, 2019)