Jeff Jones at his family farm.

Jeff Jones at his family farm.

After four years of legal wrangling, construction has begun on Callaway Farrowing LLC, a confined animal feeding operation that will contain over 10,000 hogs.

But the local group that has long fought the operation said it would continue its efforts to oppose it.

Jeff Jones, president of Friends of Responsible Agriculture, said Callaway Farrowing broke ground the first week of June. Jones said he is pleased that the group was able to keep the operation from beginning construction for four years.

“We were very blessed that we were able to hold them out for four years,” Jones said Tuesday.

In 2014, Eichelberger Farms based in Wayland, Iowa, applied for a permit to open the CAFO on farmer Darren Horstmeier’s property south of Interstate 70 near Kingdom City. Friends of Responsible Agriculture formed after residents near Horstmeier’s farm received notices about the proposed CAFO.

“(David Eichelberger) stood right here in my driveway and said, ‘There is nothing you can do to stop us from coming,’” Jones said.

Callaway County resident Harrison Backer said he is apprehensive and hopes the stench won’t reach other farms, homes or businesses in the community.

“I am a firm believer in the right of every person to do what they see fit on their property, as long as those choices don’t negatively impact those around them,” Backer said Saturday.

Stephen Jeffery, the lawyer representing Friends of Responsible Agriculture, said the Clean Water Commission voted to approve the operating permit for Callaway Farrowing in October 2016 with a 3-2 vote.

Friends of Responsible Agriculture responded by filing a lawsuit, arguing that the commission needed to have four votes to approve the permit. The Cole County Circuit Court ruled in favor of Friends for Responsible Agriculture in December 2016.

Callaway Farrowing then filed an appeal in January 2017 with the Western District Court of Appeals, and the court ruled in favor of Callaway Farrowing in December, according to online court records. Friends of Responsible Agriculture then applied for a transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court, which was was denied on April 3.

After the denial, Callaway Farrowing was allowed to move forward with construction. The Cole County Circuit Court had placed a hold on construction after Friends of Responsible Agriculture sued in 2016.

Robert Brundage, attorney for Callaway Farrowing, was not able to comment.

Even though Callaway Farrowing has broken ground, Jones said Friends of Responsible Agriculture is not going away.

“We are not leaving,” he said. “We are not dissolving. We are not running. We are staying right here, and we want to take care and defend our homes.”

Jeffery said he couldn’t comment on what the group’s next step would be. Likewise, Jones said it would be like “giving them the game plan.”

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart

  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2018 Studying science and agricultural journalism Reach me at mjrmg7@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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