JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Clean Water Commission yesterday voted to allow two new concentrated animal feeding operations in the state after years of pushback from opponents worried about possible pollution, smell and other issues.
Commission members voted 4 to nothing in favor of Trenton Farms to operate in southwest Grundy County. RNR Farms in McDonald County was approved on a five to nothing vote. The Associated Press reports the Clean Water Commission votes allow plans to move forward for the hog and chicken farms respectively. However, opponents still have options to consider such as an appeal of the decision.
Tuesday’s vote in favor of the farms comes after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ filled three seats on the board with appointees with ties to agriculture in a last-minute switch before a meeting originally scheduled for last week.
The meeting was rescheduled after Greitens announced the appointees, who include Mansfield farmer Stan Coday; Stotts City farmer John Kleiboeker; and Pat Thomas, who is chief of staff for Republican State Senator Brian Munzlinger, a leader in agriculture policy.
Their appointments mean most of the members of the Clean Water Commission now have ties to agriculture. Other members include chairwoman Ashley McCarty, a cattle farmer from Kirksville; and attorney John “Ben” Hurst, whose father is the president of Missouri Farm Bureau.
Permits for Trenton farms and RNR Farms were previously denied by the Clean Water Commission which, then had some different members.
A vote to grant the permits succeeded after Coday, Thomas and Kleiboeker were allowed to vote despite concerns raised by opponents who argued their agricultural ties created the appearance of a conflict of interest. All three said their affiliations with the industry and Missouri Farm Bureau wouldn’t be problematic. Hurst recused himself.
Ashley McCarty called complaints of potential conflicts of interests “tenuous,” and she said commissioners are able to weigh their communities’ different needs when considering proposals.
A local group, Hickory Neighbors United, has expressed the most opposition to plans for the hog farm in rural Grundy County.