Posted on Dec. 18, 2008
Marshall Democrat News

Missouri Farm Bureau Files Appeal in Arrow Rock CAFO Suit

Missouri Farm Bureau has filed an appeal of last week's amended ruling in a lawsuit challenging a permit for a confined animal feeding operation near Arrow Rock.

The CAFO, proposed by Arrow Rock farmer Dennis Gessling, was never built, and the permit for the operation expired Aug. 30.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce denied motions to intervene in the suit that were filed by Farm Bureau and a number of other agribusiness organization.

The suit, filed by the Village of Arrow Rock, Friends of Arrow Rock and Missouri Parks Association against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and its director, Doyle Childers, sought to force DNR to revoke the permit it granted to Gessling in August 2007.

Joyce ruled Dec. 9 that no concentrated animal feeding operation proposed by the Gessling family or their successors can be located within two miles of the Village of Arrow Rock and the Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site.

The amended ruling reduced the buffer zone around Arrow Rock from the 15 miles specified in the original ruling. The amended ruling was also more specific in its applicability, apparently limiting the prohibition to Gessling rather than to any CAFO operator, as had been suggested by the original ruling.

"While Judge Joyce's recent ruling modified and improved upon her original August decision, the fact remains that her decision is an attempt to regulate animal agriculture without supporting evidence or sound science," said Charles Kruse, president of Missouri Farm Bureau. "We continue to believe this case should be resolved on the factual issues at hand and not on legal technicalities or emotion. If left to stand unchallenged, this ruling could set a needless and harmful precedent for Missouri farmers and ranchers."

The Gessling family has raised hogs in Saline County for many years, according to the Farm Bureau news release.

"They decided to expand their farm operation and in doing so complied with all applicable laws and regulations," Farm Bureau officials said. "Court proceedings have failed to provide evidence or demonstrated need based upon sound science to support a buffer over and above what is already required by state law."

Opponents of the CAFO have argued that DNR failed in its mission to support and protect state parks and historic sites when it granted Gessling's permit.

Joyce's rulings have agreed with that stance, noting that because DNR attorneys failed to meet filing deadlines or properly apply for extensions, the plaintiffs' claims are "deemed true in all respsects and binding upon DNR."

Richard Miller, attorney for the plaintiffs, was unavailable Friday morning.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

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