Commission Members Barred from Voting on Callaway Co. Hog Farm

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Cole County judge has ruled two commissioners on Missouri's Clean Water Commission cannot participate in further business concerning a Callaway County hog farm proposal.

Judge Daniel Green ruled July 26 that Ashley McCarty and Todd Parnell violated their objectivity when they toured or observed other CAFOs similar to the facility proposed in Callaway County.

The ruling comes after the group Friends of Responsible Agriculture (FORAg) appealed to the commission over the Department of Revenue's decision to award an operating permit to the proposed 10,000 hog facility.

FORAg is made up of neighbors who oppose the CAFO proposed for construction along County Road 227 in Callaway County.

In March 2015, during the appeal process, several commissioners took tours of similar CAFOs to the one proposed. FORAg said they were not notified of the tours and that such fact-finding tours in their absence violated comissioners' objectivity. 

McCarty and Parnell told KOMU 8 News they were opposed to the judge's ruling.

McCarty said she was not aware observing the operation of similar CAFOs would violate her objectivity, and maintained it doesn't. 

"We as a commission have been seeking to educate ourselves," McCarty said. "That's why we went to these facilities."

McCarty said no matter what fact-finding commissioners did, they were still directed to make a decision on the permit appeal based solely on the information presented in the appeal.

Parnell said of the ruling, "I was shocked by the judge’s ruling which seems arbitrary and discriminatory, and deprives me of my right and obligation as a commissioner to vote on an important Clean Water Commission ruling."

Parnell said the commission was trying to become more familiar with the facilities it regulates and that he was "looking at options" to regain his voting ability on the issue.