Valley Oaks Steak Company announced its closure in a social media post on August 19th, stated it was closing “due to economics” and the “constant barrage of legal battles and extensive marketing efforts needed to counter misinformation”.
The beef cattle operation was headquartered in Lone Jack and began operating in 2016, with the intent of becoming a “hoof-to-table” supplier of premium beef. The company had approximately 900 cattle and had recently applied for a permit to expand operations up to 6,999 cattle.
The expansion plan faced backlash from nearby residents and Powell Gardens, a botanical garden, due to environmental and odor concerns.
In an appeal filed June 2018 by Powell Gardens, the organization argued “The facility -- which will be the largest cattle CAFO in Missouri -- includes several sources of environmental contamination from on-site animal housing, waste storage, slaughtering and retail meat market. Some call it “state of the art,” but environmental experts for Kansas City-based SES Inc. have calculated the cattle will generate 1,547 tons of feces, urine and bedding material a day.
The list of adverse environmental impacts that are of concern to Powell Gardens and its Lone Jack neighbors includes gaseous odors from bones, urine, blood and carcasses from the barn and slaughterhouse; wind-blown particulates from manure spread at Valley Oaks and surrounding land parcels; ground and surface water contamination; pests that endanger flora and fauna; decreasing land values; and wear and tear on the local infrastructure.”
Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed by residents near the operation, represented by Independence attorney Ken McClain.
In a statement on social media, Powell Gardens expressed surprise to learn of the closure, and stated “We are currently awaiting Valley Oaks’ confirmation of their closure with the judges in all pending legal actions”.
In its statement, Valley Oaks called out Powell Gardens, claiming the nonprofit organization capitalized on the controversy to “advance their own fundraising campaigns”.
Governor Mike Parson shared his dismay over the closing in a statement on social media, stating “80 Missourians have lost their jobs...because environmental extremists put fear above fact. Some will call this a ‘win’, but this is a major loss to every farm and ranch family in our state.”