Boonville, MO (April 2, 2018) - - Today, opponents of Cooper County CAFOs, LLC (“OCCC”) filed a four-Count lawsuit in Cooper County Circuit Court against Cooper County and the three Cooper County Commissioners alleging violations of the Missouri Open Records Law, or Sunshine Law.
PVC Management II, LLC, from Pipestone, Minnesota, has applied to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for a permit to operate a Class IC swine concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, near Clarksburg, Missouri. The proposed Tipton East CAFO would contain 5,784 sows, 640 nursery pigs, and 1,280 swine, and is designed to contain 8.6 million gallons of liquid hog waste.
The lawsuit concerns a meeting and site tour of the proposed CAFO location conducted by the County Commissioners on February 9, 2018 with representatives of PVC Management II, LLC. Other parties invited to attend the February 9, 2018 meeting and site tour of the proposed Tipton East CAFO site included the Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Pork Association, University of Missouri Extension, and Cooper County Public Health Board.
Shortly after the February 9 meeting and site visit, the County Commission announced that Cooper County would not adopt a County Health Ordinance imposing any public health requirements on new CAFOs in Cooper County.
Cooper County Presiding Commissioner Don Baragary acknowledge they were served on Wednesday, April 4th and had no comment.
Significantly, OCCC and its members had no advance notice the meeting and site tour were to take place. Further, the online calendar maintained by the Cooper County Commission shows the Commissioners were attending a three-day training session in Columbia, Missouri on February 7 - 9, 2018.
In an effort to obtain information about the events leading up to the February 9, 2018 meeting and site tour, on March 26, 2018, OCCC submitted a Sunshine Law request seeking access to e-mails and other documents maintained by the County Commissioners and the Director of the County Health Board. However, in a letter dated March 29, 2018, the County Clerk “disclaims any obligation or requirement under the Sunshine Law” to provide access to the requested documents.
“We are just trying to find out the facts of how this meeting was planned and organized and who attended,” said Fred Williams, with OCCC. “The Commissioners and the CAFO operator all knew of our group’s intense interest in the proposed CAFO, and it sure looks like we were intentionally left out of the party,” added Williams.
The four Count lawsuit alleges that the Defendants knowingly and purposely violated the Sunshine Law by failing to provide public notice of the February 9, 2018 meeting and site tour of the proposed CAFO and failing to provide access to the requested documents. Each Count of the lawsuit seeks a $5,000.00 civil penalty to be paid to the County School Fund and payment of OCCC’s attorneys’ fees and costs.