Opposition to Proposed Mo. Horse Processing Plant Arises

Residents of a Missouri town packed a city council meeting this week to voice their opinions about a horse processing plant development proposed for a nearby industrial site, and according to one community leader, opposition to the project is strong.

On Feb. 24 the Wyoming-based Unified Equine LLC, announced it was conducting a study to determine the feasibility of locating a horse processing plant in the Twin Cities Industrial Park near Mountain Grove, Mo. According to plant developers Unified Meats LLC, the proposed Missouri plant would be a state-of-the-art facility primarily focused on processing horsemeat for human consumption, but also capable of processing beef and bison. Resulting products would be sold in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

On March 6 Mountain Grove residents packed a senior citizens center to learn more about the plant project, said Glenn Kemper, treasurer of the Mountain Grove Community Foundation, a nonpropfit organization that awards grants and engages in community improvement activities.

Kemper said that during the meeting, opposition to the horse processing plant development was strong enough to kill the project: "From what I saw (at the meeting), it's a dead issue."

During the meeting some opposed the plant on animal welfare grounds, Kemper said.

Kemper opposed the project because of the potentially negative environmental impact it represents. He said that geographically, Mountain Grove is located in a Karst region (a type of landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rock such as limestone). As a result, Karst regions are prone to sinkhole collapse, groundwater contamination, and unpredictable water supply, he said.

Also, Kemper said, the proposed processing plant site is located near the fork of the White River. With a projected 400 horses processed during double shift plant operations, Kemper worries that waste from the plant will endanger the area's water supply.

Unified Equine representative Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis said that opposing opinions expressed during the meeting did not accurately represent local sentiment about the project.

"In spite of bringing a bunch of people from outside of the area in an attempt to create the illusion of local opposition, the local business leaders, civic organizations, and the agricultural community in Mountain Grove tell us that support of our project is, in their estimation, nine out of 10 people," Wallis said.

She added that plant developers Unified Equine has invited Mountain Grove residents to attend a March 12 informational meeting about the project and the feasibility study currently under way.

Despite his opposition to the project, Kemper plans to attend the upcoming meeting.

"I'll go, I'll listen, and I'll see what they have to say," he said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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