Neighbors concerned about steak company's expansion

JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. — A proposed expansion project for a metro meat company has led to a number of concerns for some neighbors and surrounding businesses.

The Valley Oaks Steak Company, located in Johnson County (MO), has already started construction to expand its feedlot and processing plant and plans to increase the number of its cattle more than seven times.

While the company still needs to officially get a permit for the project, many neighbors have voiced concern.

A Facebook group called “Lone Jack Neighbors for Responsible Farming” has grown to almost 500 members, with many of them bringing up possible issues with the environment, property values, and odors coming from the facility.

Staff at Powell Gardens, located just 10 minutes from Valley Oaks Steak Company, have also brought up concerns.

“We’d like to know a little bit more about how this could potentially affect the gardens,” explained manager Kalie Hudson. “We need to completely understand how an expansion of this size could potentially affect a community treasure.”

Hudson said Powell Gardens hoped to get more information on the potential impact to the environment from the project and the possible issues it could cause.

“There’s possible runoff from the high concentration of manure, which would go into local streams, lakes and ponds,” she said. “It could potentially adversely affect environmental ecosystems in the area.”

Valley Oaks Steak Company spoke to 41 Action News about the project and the concerns neighbors have.

Jake Huddleston, a national sales representative, said the company has taken steps to control odors from the facility and prevent environmental issues.

“We’ve applied for zero runoff. That doesn’t allow any contamination into the water whatsoever,” he explained. “If there was, we’d be shut down.”

Huddleston added that the company will focus on using wood chips and straw to help compost material and control odors coming from the facility.

“We try to actively participate in those concerns and try to educate them on what we’re doing to be proactive and good neighbors in the community,” he explained.

The company said the project will bring an economic impact to the area as well, with 50 to 100 jobs being added at the site.

“The money stays here,” Huddleston said. “The family is local. The farm is local. The cattle is local.” 

With the Missouri Department of Natural Resources now handling the case and the permit still waiting to be approved, neighbors hoped they would get answers soon.

Community members who spoke to 41 Action News said they plan to attend a public hearing for the project that will be held on April 3 at 6 p.m. at Lone Jack High School.

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