Missouri Politicians Seek Ways to Keep Missouri Prime Beef Open

March 8, 2024
Closure of the facility would cost the region more than 300 jobs, but lawmakers understand that protecting the local waterways is just as crucial.

Trying to strike a balance between keeping more than 300 people employed and protecting the local community’s watershed from pollution, politicians in southwest Missouri are trying to find ways to keep Missouri Prime Beef Packers open next month.

The beef processor last week announced it would shut down its Pleasant Hope, Mo., facility on April 26 due to “unforeseen business circumstances.” The closure could be temporary or permanent, the company said at the time, but according to local news reports, lawmakers in the region are trying to avoid it altogether.

Several politicians say they understand that clean waterways are crucial, but so are the 335 jobs that would be lost if the plant closed. Not to mention all the area farmers who would have to ship their cattle much further for processing without a lot of notice.

The battle over Missouri Prime Beef’s wastewater discharge — the assumed “circumstances” that ultimately are leading to the plant’s closure — began last summer, when news broke that the plant had requested approval to discharge up to 350,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater into the Pomme de Terre River, which previously had been on and off federal impaired waterways lists.

In January, the processor withdrew its request after it was leaked that the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources (MDNR) planned to reject the request. MDNR additionally denied the plant a permit to land-apply its treated wastewater, as the technology that Missouri Prime Beef used to treat its wastewater was not considered a “proven” technology by the state.

That led to the company to announce in February the plant’s planned closure.

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