Battle rages in northeast Missouri over big farms

MISSOURI - Dick Lawler says he won’t surrender northeast Missouri’s scenic, recreation and water resource to a 4,980-hog farm proposed near Mark Twain Lake.

The real estate agent and resident is leading the fight to stop what he calls a “declared war on our lake“ by corporate interests trying to establish hog farms in northeast Missouri.

“The agricultural lobbies keep the rules so loose, hog operations can pop up anywhere,“ he said.

But if Lawler’s camp fears large-scale hog farms would spoil the air, water, aesthetics and property values of the lake straddling Ralls and Monroe counties, young farmer Jared Windmann in Audrain County, south of here, sees corporate hog farming as salvation.

His family raises thousands of hogs under contract with Minnesota-based Cargill Inc., an agreement that has allowed them to stay on the farm and build a business.

“Why do a contract?“ Windmann asks. “Sheer risk. The rent is set for 10 years, even if the market is terrible.“

Northeast Missouri is the latest theater for community wars over corporate hog farms as the agribusiness giant aggressively markets business opportunities to farmers looking to hold on.

Cargill said it wants to sign up 30 farmers a year in northern Missouri, western Illinois and southern Iowa to raise company-owned hogs closer to Cargill processing plants in Ottumwa, Iowa, and Beardstown, Ill. Each slaughters 18,000 hogs a day.

Source: Quad-cities Times
calendar icon 24 March 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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