Valley Oaks cattle feedlot in Lone Jack announces it’s closing immediately

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LONE JACK, Mo. -- Valley Oaks Steak Company in Lone Jack announced Monday that it's closing immediately.

In a statement, the company said its abrupt closure is "due to economics" and "the constant barrage of legal battles and extensive marketing efforts needed to counter misinformation."

For months now, the Johnson County, Missouri, company has been fighting to expand its cattle feedlot.

When it opened in 2016, Valley Oaks had a permit for 999 head of cattle. They applied for a permit to increase their capacity to nearly 7,000, building six additional facilities on 400 acres.

But Powell Gardens and many others objected the move. A January preliminary injunction prevented the expansion. That case would go to trial in February.

The 970-acre botanical garden, and other opponents, argued the expansion would threaten water quality and put the botanical center at risk of disease-spreading pests.

In a statement released Monday, Valley Oaks said when it comes to Powell Gardens, both those arguments aren't true.

The company said for two years, it had no complaints of environmental concerns. But then Valley Oaks said it became a "lightning rod for individuals and organizations opposed to animal agriculture operations."

"Powell Gardens organized a fear-mongering campaign against our operation," Valley Oaks said in its statement, "when in reality, Valley Oaks and Powell Gardens are not in the same watershed, nor were their botanical gardens ever in danger of being affected."

They also argued the flies that feed on cattle manure don't destroy vegetation and don't travel long distances.

"Not one single plant-eating fly has ever been shown to exist at our facility," the company said.

Valley Oaks' owners said the controversy got so bad, they even got threats and some of their cattle were shot.

Just over 140 property owners in Johnson County also recently filed a lawsuit against Valley Oaks, accusing the company of trespassing and being a nuisance.

“The smells are horrific. The runoff is terrible, and the flies that are generated are unimaginable,” said Ken McClain, the attorney handling the lawsuit.

The property owners said this isn't a case of them moving in around the feedlot and now being unhappy. The feedlot came to them.

Valley Oaks said it looks forward to having its day in court, "so that we could prove to a jury and the public that we love our community and that our approach to agribusiness was not a nuisance but was environmentally sound, sustainable, and promoted local and regional agriculture."

FOX4 reached out to Valley Oaks for further comment, but the company declined. Their attorney said their statement will speak for them. You can read the full statement below.

Powell Gardens also released a statement Monday after learning of Valley Oaks' closure, saying they were surprised but are glad to hear the news.

"It really came as a surprise," Tabitha Schmidt, CEO and president of Powell Gardens said. "It really did. Our issue with Valley Oaks has always been with its location, its size and its scope. Odor was our biggest concern. CAFOs have a smell like you just can’t describe. It’s not cattle on a pasture. It’s a completely different thing."

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