Government & Politics

What's the Powell Gardens fight against feedlot expansion worth? Donor says: $6,999

Please, Powell Gardens, take this donation of $6,999.

That's what an anonymous donor gave to help the botanical preserve appeal Missouri's decision to allow the Valley Oaks Steak Co., a feedlot three miles west, to expand.

"It was poetic justice," the donor says in a Powell Garden press release, "that we use an amount that mirrors the 6,999 cows that we are fighting."

So what's with the number?

Powell Gardens this week filed an administrative appeal of a June 15 decision by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to grant a permit for up to 6,999 beef cattle at Valley Oaks. Established just east of Lone Jack in 2016, the feedlot and slaughtering plant currently maintains fewer than 950 head.

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A state permit to house 7,000 or more head of cattle would subject Valley Oaks Steak, or any other concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), to more on-site inspections and stricter environmental rules than required for feedlots with one cow fewer.

In addition to the administrative filing, which addresses only issues of water quality, Powell Gardens has asked the Jackson County Circuit Court for a permanent injunction that "allows us to consider the scope of everything affecting us" if the CAFO plans proceed, said gardens spokeswoman Kalie Hudson.

Valley Oaks has said the installation of what it calls an environmentally safe, "state-of-the-art" operation would create more than 50 jobs, benefit regional grain suppliers and provide locally grown beef to Kansas City markets.

The $6,999 donor, identified as a "long-time Powell Gardens supporter," happens to live just down the road from the feedlot.

"This is our community," she said in presenting the gift.