COOPER CO., Mo. - Dozens across mid-Missouri gathered to discuss concerns and benefits of a hog operation that would bring thousands of swine to Cooper County.
Minnesota-based Pipestone System hopes to build a concentrated animal feeding operation on Renshaw Drive in the southern part of the county. Its application with the Department of Natural Resources shows that it would bring more than 7,000 hogs to the two barns, with a third barn used for composting animals that die.
Oakland Baptist Church near Clarksburg was filled Thursday night with people seeking more information on the Pipestone System project, known as Tipton East, as well as some proponents of the concentrated animal feeding operation. Many were concerned with how the hog operation would affect the quality of the water, air and their livelihood if built.
Steve Menke, a Pipestone System representative, said manure produced by the hogs would go toward landowners in the area for fertilizer. Menke said the company had signed agreements to use the manure on 1,171 acres of land. An injected hose applicator would "knife" the manure directly into the ground around the crops.
Menke did not specify how many individual agreements Pipestone System had with landowners when ABC 17 News asked after the meeting.
Residents said that process had the potential to cause pollution of nearby streams, as well as the underground water source the area uses. Bill Embry, a landowner in Cooper County, said the operation had the potential to disrupt the lives of two different communities.
"I really am concerned about what's going to happen with 34,000 residents in two counties, what the impact is going to be not only in Cooper County, but also in Moniteau County," Embry said.
Menke said Pipestone System will bid out the project's construction for local companies to compete, and that the operation would bring about 20 jobs. The lowest salary would be for about $14 an hour, Menke said, and the manager of the facility would be paid around $100,000.
Taylor Tuttle, who lives a few miles from the site, defended the large-scale operation. The modern agriculture techniques, she said, would help bring people into the agriculture industry, and shared her personal experience growing up on a similar operation.
"I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn about the diversity of agriculture," Tuttle said. "And quite frankly, my family wouldn't have been able to put food on the table. It was our primary source of income."
Some said they were interested in Cooper County adopting a health ordinance that would regulate CAFOs in the community. Fred Williams, another Cooper County resident, said the Cooper County Health Department would discuss the issue at its meeting next week.
Other counties have adopted health ordinances that included setbacks CAFOs must have from other homes and bodies of water.
(Editor's note, 2/9: An earlier version of the story identified Tuttle as being with the Missouri Beef Council. While Tuttle does work for the MBC, she said she was at the meeting as a landowner near the site, and not representing the MBC.)