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      Petition challenges hog farm construction

      A petition drive is underway to stop the construction of a hog operation in Callaway County.

      Petition organizers said an agreement to build the facility could be in violation of a contract signed 15 years ago.

      Fourth generation Callaway County farmer Jeff Jones organized a petition drive to stop Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms from building a 10,000-hog facility on some property that sits about 2 and a half miles away from his home. Jones went door to door with his 3 daughters and asked neighbors to sign his petition. Jill Sellenriek signed it because sheâ??s worried about waste removal.

      Sellenriek said, â??When you spread the waste product on the land and the rains come, I think the people who are taking that waste product are the people who are going to be angry neighbors.â??

      The Horstmeier family agreed to sell their land to Eichelberger Farms. Jones and his neighbors have a 15-year-old contract with the Horstmeier family that could stop the construction of the hog facility. Mexico attorney Ann Hagan represents Jonesâ?? group called â??Friends of Responsible Agricultureâ??. Hagan believes the 1999 document is a legally binding agreement that prevents construction within 5 miles of the Horstmeier property. She said that includes the Horstmeier family, their heirs and anyone who purchased the land.

      Hagan said, â??The court would decide. Everybody, of course, would have appeals rights depending on how any decision would come down.â??

      About 500 people signed the petition that lists several concerns including the health of Callaway County citizens and the effects on air and water quality.

      Jones said, â??That large of a facility is going to put out a tremendous amount of waste. It has to go over a lot of acres. To do that in a respectful way where you donâ??t infringe on your neighbors, thatâ??s a very touchy situation.â??

      The proposed hog facility site is just south of the Hatton exit on Interstate 70.

      Once Jones finishes his petition drive, he will send copies to the Horstmeier family, the Callaway County Commission and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. If the petition doesnâ??t stop the construction of the hog operation near his land, Jones is considering a lawsuit. He said heâ??d rather settle things outside the courtroom.

      Jonesâ?? petition is not for a ballot issue and does not require a certain amount of signatures.

      The petition only shows community opposition to the proposed hog facility.

      David Eichelberger and Darren Horstmeier did not return our calls seeking comment.