More than 100 farmers, lawyers, nurses, children and area residents have stuffed the Department of Natural Resources' public comments inbox with concerns or outright opposition to the proposed Tipton East concentrated animal feeding operation in Cooper County.
Many more could be received before the public comment period ends March 17 and DNR must decide whether to approve or deny the Tipton East CAFO application.
The comments were submitted in regard to Pipestone System's application to DNR to install a CAFO, to be known as Tipton East. The proposed facility would be a class 1C CAFO operation on Renshaw Drive in Cooper County, consisting of 25 acres currently owned by Dean Gibson. The site is a mile north of the Moniteau County line near Clarksburg and would be Pipestone's seventh facility in Missouri.
Many of the comments included a request for a public hearing so people could address their concerns to DNR in person and have an open discussion on the topics like regulation, public health and water quality.
Tipton East would consist of a gestation building housing 4,704 sows, a farrowing building housing 1,080 sows, and a gilt-development unit for 1,620 females weighing more than 55 pounds, and 324 nursery pigs, according to the application.
Pipestone System, the third-largest U.S. pork producer, describes itself as a quasi-cooperative of 70 sow farms owned by 450 individual independent farmers. The majority of those operations are in Iowa and Minnesota, where there is a high volume of corn and other swine operations.
The proposed CAFO quickly caught the ire of some area residents, who believe the large stock of animals and manure will cause health and environmental risks outweighing the potential economic benefits of the project.
Other residents see a potential economic gain from the project, such as farmers who could sell hog feed to the operation or those who will receive free fertilizer.
The possibility of property devaluation is a key concern of several area landowners who will not experience the benefits of free field fertilizer. Many landowners fear the manure spread on row crop fields adjacent to the facility could cause runoff pollution in the nearby spring-fed streams. Concerned residents mentioned the possible existence of a former homestead well that could be buried on the site, which could allow manure to contaminate the water table and endanger those who depend on private wells for drinking water.
The risk of seismic activity from the New Madrid Seismic Zone also was addressed by a concerned resident, who said Pipestone System does not intend to have protective liners around the concrete manure storage tanks that would be installed beneath the confinement facilities. She said concrete can be damaged by water and extreme temperatures, but a major earthquake stemming from the New Madrid could drastically impact Cooper County and cause a leak in the manure tanks.