Cattlemen Back Family Farms Regardless of Size

| April 4, 2018
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WARRENSBURG, Mo. – The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) held a news conference, Tuesday, April 3, ahead of a hearing hosted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding a water permit sought by Valley Oaks Angus and Valley Oaks Steak Company. MCA Region 5 Vice President Bruce Mershon said the hearing was about more than just Valley Oaks to the association.
“This is about advancing Missouri agriculture,” said Mershon. “The average herd size in this state is 36 head, but yet we are the second-largest beef cow state in the nation with more beef cattle farms than any other state besides Texas. Our association represents family farms all across the state and we aren’t afraid to stand firm for the member with 10 cows or 10,000.”
Kenny Smarr, president of the Johnson County Cattlemen’s Association, stressed the importance of repopulating the land with the next generation.
“The average age of a farmer in Missouri is nearing 60 and only 5 percent are 35 years-old or younger,” said Smarr. “This family is just one example of family farmers and ranchers working to take their small business to the next level. This family is on a quest to meet growing demands for locally raised beef in the greater Kansas City area. Instead of trucking the cattle out-of-state to be fed and processed, this family wants to keep that value right here in Missouri. Again, this is one family. We must stand firm for family farms in this state.”
Johnson County Presiding Commissioner Bill Gabel spent decades as a contractor building water and wastewater plants across the country allowing him to be familiar with DNR and similar agencies in other states.
“The permitting process with the Department of Natural Resources is rigorous. It isn’t an easy hurdle and it shouldn’t be. State and federal laws heavily regulate confined animal feeding operations and these farms are at an extremely high level of oversight. Farmers and ranchers take the risk of being at this level of government scrutiny because it’s another way to add opportunities for the next generation to come back to the family farm,” said Gabel. “I have faith in the permitting process that is rooted in sound science and I call on everyone to let that process work.”
Mershon said when it comes to environmental rules and regulations, “the line is clear.”
“No manure or other nutrients from Valley Oaks are allowed to enter any water of Missouri. Period. This applies to the feedlot and processing facility,” said Mershon. “All parts of the production area will be under roof ensuring no run off comes from the facility.”
The participants also highlighted the economic importance of Missouri agriculture noting that it’s the largest industry in the state contributing more than $88 billion annually, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Smarr said $441 million comes from Johnson County and $5.5 billion is contributed to Jackson County.
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