Mr. Childers, what more facts do you need?
October 03, 2005
More birds mean more problems for the citizens of Southwest Missouri

The "Award-winning" newspaper, the Neosho Daily News posted on the Internet on September 27, 2005 an article entitled , "DNR officials meet with residents" that placed Moark's Hathaway Farm expansion project "about seven miles southeast of Neosho."

One of the rather convincing arguments put forward by members of SWMCALME and other opponents to the Moark expansion is that the location of the expansion is too close to the properties of other Neosho landowners as well as the campus of Crowder College.

In misrepresenting Moark property as being a distance from Neosho city limits, what the reporters at the Neosho Daily News neglected to mention was that, according to a map in the Newton County assessor's office, the Neosho city limits were extended in a J-shaped figuration on Moark land in order to allow Moark access to the city's wastewater system for at least three groups of hen houses.

Mark Adams, chief spokesman for SWMCALME, in a letter to Rick Rogers, the newspaper's publisher, lambasted him for his staff's misrepresentation of the truth.

"In all seriousness, why do you allow the paper to lie so blatantly about Moark?" Adams wrote. "How dumb do you think your readers are?...To someone not familiar with the issue they would think that 'Gee 7 miles, what's the big deal.' Maybe that is the intent of the Daily to shade the story's frame in the direction of Moark."

Todd C. Frankel in his October 2, 2005 article, "Charges cloud egg factory's expansion plans in Neosho," in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn't do much better in describing Moark's location as being "on the outskirts of town in the state's deepest southwest corner." What does the "outskirts of town" bring to mind but a sparsely inhabited and rather remote area at which little affects the "heart of the city." And what does he mean by tacking the place way off in the "state's deepest corner?"

What does the outskirts of Neosho mean? The City of Houston, for instance, is about 636 sq. miles. The outskirts would be a place much more remote from the center of commerce and activity than little Neosho with its 14.9 sq. mile area.

Are both reporters obscuring the fact that expansion of Moark will affect all of Neosho? The operation already has devalued the land surrounding it and is the chief deterrent for further residential and/or business expansion in the area.

By the way, the gist of Frankel's article seems to be that it is incredible that just plain Republican folk, not left-wing Sierra Club members or their ilk, have become conscious of their environment and the need for its protection.

Moark officials say that modernization will be an improvement, that it will cut down on the stench that currently pervades nearby Crowder College. Duplicating operations in Roggen, CO (population about 600), that Moark officials said they were achieving with modernization says nothing for making improvements here, since it can easily be proved that the humidity levels and land permeability in Neosho are not comparable with that of Roggen.

What about the comments from the managers of the "modern" CAFOs in Malcolm and Fremont, IA (each with populations less than 500)? Didn't they say that they didn't understand why Moark would propose putting a large operation near a college or a town the size of Neosho"?

BTW, the Malcolm facility reportedly has 5 million birds, the size of the proposed Moark expansion, and the entire operation has only 50 employees. Given a policy of efficiency that Moark has long embraced, it seems unlikely that proponents of the expansion can use jobs to justify approval.

Doyle Childers, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (and, my goodness, not his ombudsmen flunkies) has scheduled another meeting this week as "a final opportunity to receive any new, factual information in writing from local citizens as well as from MOARK representatives." What more can be said? Is he saying that all the arguments so far supporting degradation of the environment are not "factual?" Why, his own office records justify many of them. And why hasn't his office answered as promised the questions already put before them?

The newest issue, of course, that has hit the media's attention is the possibility of an avian flu pandemic. How scary that a company like Moark with reams of citations from the MDNR will be issued a permit to expand their operations to a phenomenal number of birds packed tightly in cages, an environment said to contribute to the spread of infection.

What's the deal? At least a third of the population of Neosho signed a petition to halt Moark's expansion. Facts have been presented showing the harm to the environment and health of the area, yet Missouri government agencies continue to press on for permit approval... If they continue to blindly support Moark's expansion in frustration all we can say is that they are holding office, people. Remember that next time you vote. And, perhaps, an organization interested in preserving people's rights will have the resources to investigate the ties between big business and members of the Missouri government.

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