Valley Oaks Steak Company, Lone Jack, MO, announced Monday it was closing operations immediately.
Valley Oaks, located about 30 miles southeast of Kansas City, has been embroiled in controversy since it sought last year to expand its cattle feeding and processing operations from 900 head to 6,999. Under Missouri rules, only feedlots with 7,000 head or more are required to submit an odor plan.
But odor is precisely what neighbors were worried about, and various groups campaigned against Valley Oaks proposed expansion. Chief among those opposed to the feedlot’s expansion was Powell Gardens, a 970-acre botanical gardens in Kingsville, MO. Powell Gardens includes a nature trail, wildflower meadows and a woodland chapel used for weddings.
In a Facebook post Monday (Aug. 19, 2019) Valley Oaks said, “Unfortunately, Valley Oaks became a lightning rod for individuals and organizations opposed to animal agriculture operations. While we understand there were skeptics of our approach, Valley Oaks became a target for groups that used us to advance their own fundraising campaigns.”
The company said about 80 people work at Valley Oaks, whose business model was hoof-to-table, including buying locally-raised cattle, feeding them and processing them on site in a state-of-the-art facility.
“Valley Oaks is not a large faceless corporation with unknown and distant directors and shareholders, but is a group of local family members who sought to provide regionally and sustainably-produced beef to the public,” the Facebook post said. “Unfortunately, we have been stalked, threatened, and slandered. Our children have been targeted, bullied and threatened. Several of our cattle were shot dead in the field, no doubt as a warning to us.”
Valley Oaks said the economics of the business no longer worked because of “the constant barrage of legal battles and extensive marketing efforts needed to counter misinformation.”