CANTON, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has issued a permit allowing Expedition Acres LLC to operate a hog farm in Lewis County.
But opponents of the controversial hog operation insist their fight isn't over.
"Not by a long shot," said Karel Rogers, a member of the Northeast Missouri Community Conservation Coalition, which has been battling the proposed hog operation for weeks and now is threatening legal action.
"It's not anywhere near a lost cause," Rogers said. "We're going to fight this until all of their hogs are out of Missouri."
The Missouri DNR on Monday issued Expedition Acres a general operating permit to build the facility on a 33.6-acre site about 7 miles northwest of Canton. The site is 1 mile east of Mo. 81, 1 mile south of the Clark County line and about 3 miles southeast of St. Patrick.
Missouri DNR Director of Communications Connie Patterson said the operating permit allows Expedition Acres to operate the facility and carry out whatever construction is necessary to get started.
"The company will not have to seek a separate construction permit," she said.
Expedition Acres is associated with Professional Swine Management of Carthage, Ill., which will manage the farm. Professional Swine Management operates about 30 different confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) in West-Central Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, with most of them in Illinois.
Professional Swine Management Chief Operating Officer Ted Ufkes said construction already has begun at the site, and he expects the company will start stocking the farm with hogs in late July.
Ufkes said he was glad to see the DNR issue the operating permit.
"That's great news," he said. "The state agreed that we met all the requirements."
Plans call for operating a breed-to-wean facility featuring three buildings -- a farrowing barn, a breeding/gestation barn and a gilt development barn. The three buildings will have concrete pits to hold animal waste that drops from slatted floors. Wastewater nutrients from the pits will be applied onto nearby farmland as a fertilizer for crops.
The company's application indicated the farm would have 960 sows and litters, 4,640 breeding/gestating sows and boars, 2,400 heavier than over 55 pounds and 500 gilts lighter than 500 pounds -- a total of 8,500 animals in all.
Ufkes said the general plan is to maintain about 6,000 mother sows that will give birth to piglets which, in turn, will be kept on site for about three weeks until they are shipped elsewhere.
He said the hog farm will employ between 20 and 22 people, and the company is already taking applications for those jobs.
The farm also will generate property taxes that will benefit local and state taxing entities.
During a public hearing April 18 in Canton hosted by the DNR, Canton-area residents voiced concerns that the hog farm could threaten drinking water supplies, increase traffic and produce unsavory odors that would harm their quality of life and property values.
Among those speaking against the hog farm were several residents from Lake of the Oaks, a rural community built around a private 65-acre lake about 2 miles east of the proposed hog farm. Residents expressed fear that runoff from the farm would enter streams and find its way into the lake.
"We have a pristine lake. We want to keep it that way," Bob Bergman, one of 122 owners of lakeside property, told DNR representatives during the hearing.
Rogers said she sympathizes with the Lake of the Oaks residents and others who live near the proposed hog farm.
"I find it morally insulting that a corporation like that can come in on a group of people living in a place and minding their own business and do something so noxious and damage so many lives," she said.