Farm Talk

March 13, 2012

Horse processing plant in Ozarks drawing opposition


Associated Press

Parsons, Kansas — MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. (AP)—Emotions ran high last week when a large crowd heard testimony for and against a Wyoming company's proposal to build a horse slaughtering and processing plant in southwest Missouri.

The Mountain Grove City Council meeting had to be moved to accommodate the large crowd and some speakers were booed, prompting Mayor Delbert Crewse to call for order and warn people they would be removed if they could not stay quiet, KY3-TV reported.

A Wyoming company, Unified Equine, LLC, is conducting a feasibility study on building the plant between Mountain Grove and Cabool, in the Twin Cities industrial park. The company has not yet sought a Missouri Department of Natural Resources permit for the plant that would produce meat for human consumption.     

Roger Lindsey, president of the Twin Cities board, was booed several times as he testified that the plant would bring between 40 to 55 jobs and economic investment of between $6 million to $7 million in infrastructure.

``I think two years from now if you come down and talk to me, people are going to be glad this is here, and it will be a great success, but it needs to be done right. There's no doubt about that,'' Lindsey said.

But Mountain Grove attorney Cynthia MacPherson testified that the plant would destroy the region by bringing environmental damage, crime and lower property rates.

``We get nothing out of it, except destroy this community. That's it. We will destroy this community,'' MacPherson said.

MacPherson told The Springfield News-Leader after the meeting that she planned to speak to the Mountain Grove Board of Aldermen this week to discuss pollution problems, reduced property values and animal abuses that she said have been reported at horse slaughtering plants in Texas and Canada.

``I think the most important thing is to make the public aware, and to educate the council,'' she said.

MacPherson estimated 300 people attended last weeks meeting and most of them seemed to oppose the plant.

``I was overwhelmed; I did not expect this,'' she said.

Lindsey acknowledged he had a rough reception at the meeting.

``Sure, tough questions need to be answered,'' Lindsey said in an email to the News-Leader. ``Will there be risk to the ground water and environment? Will local workers be hired compared to non-locals? Will property values be harmed?''

Lindsey said he wasn't used to hearing opposition to new jobs for the area.

``But I do understand these legitimate questions about the environment and I know processing horses creates a highly emotional atmosphere for some,'' he said. ``If you all have any say in this I hope you will consider what a new plant and the jobs from it, with proper safeguards will do for our area.''

The proposed facility also has sparked a local Facebook page ``The Community Preservation Project'' aimed at halting the plant. Horse lovers also have launched an online nationwide petition at Change.org hoping to prevent the plant from being built in Missouri.

Representatives of Unified Equine, LLC, will have an informational meeting from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday at the Ozarks Family YMCA in Mountain Grove. Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equity, and others affiliated with the project plan to attend. The Cabool City Council is also scheduled to hear presentations on March 19.