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      Callaway County residents say hog farm violates legal agreement

      Callaway County residents say a proposed hog farm violates a legal agreement not to put such a facility within 5 miles of this one.

      Opponents of a planned hog farm said Saturday the facility violates an agreement the family hosting the facility signed 15 years ago.

      Jeff Jones, who owns a cattle farm near the proposed site, told KRCG 13 that Gary Horstmeier signed an agreement not to build any new hog facilities within five miles of one on Horstmeier property on County Road 235. Darren Horstmeier now oversees that operation. Jones said the agreement was legally binding not only to Gary Horstmeier but also his heirs and anyone who purchased the land. Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms plans to build a 10,000-pig facility on Horstmeier land on County Road 227, about two and a half miles away. The site is just south of the Hatton exit on Interstate 70.

      When KRCG 13 asked Darren Horstmeier about the agreement, he said he was not sure whether such an agreement existed and he would have to refer the question to an attorney. He declined to comment further for this story. Eichelberger Farms did not return calls seeking comment.

      Jones said the project's opponents, who have now formally organized under the name Friends of Responsible Agriculture, will launch a petition drive on Wednesday against the facility. He said an attorney is currently reviewing the Horstmeier agreement to determine how to incorporate it into the petition's language. Once the petition drive is complete, he said copies will be sent to the Horstmeier family, Eichelberger Farms, the Callaway County Commission and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources along with an attorney's letter explaining the legal situation.

      "I'm hoping that he'll understand that the community is bound together and would like this to go to a less-populated area," Jones said.

      If the petition does not work, he did not rule out a lawsuit but said he wants to avoid one if possible.