2,500 Hogs Die At Knox City CAFO
By Echo Menges
According to Mike Martin, Director of Communications for Cargill, there was an incident at a Miller Farms CAFO off County Road 208 south of Knox City.
“Last Wednesday, July 20, there was an electrical power outage at the facility and as a result of that 2,500 hogs have died,” said Martin. “An alarm system should have triggered and didn’t. 1,700 hogs in the facility survived.”
According to Martin, Cargill owned the hogs. Miller Farms was “contracted to finish them off,” which means Miller Farms was responsible to: see that the hogs were fully developed and transport them to the meat processor. The hogs that perished in the facility were fully-grown and ready or near ready to be harvested then processed.
“That’s why we have these backup systems,” said Martin.
Martin stated that every CAFO contracted by Cargill is required by Cargill to have a backup emergency alarm or notification system that should have alerted someone when power in the facility failed, but the Miller Farms CAFO backup system didn’t do that. If the backup system would have been working properly it could have prevented these hogs from dying. It is unknown why the backup system did not work.
Because that secondary backup notification system didn’t work and no one was notified the facility had lost power. Now Cargill is working with Miller Farms and conducting it’s own internal investigation into the matter to get to the bottom of what exactly happened with the backup system.
In the mean time, “It was decided that they (the dead hogs) would be buried. 2,500 250 pound animals had to be dealt with pretty quickly,” said Martin.
The dead animals were buried on the Miller Farm the following day, Thursday, July 21, 2011, which according to Martin was overseen by the state.
A representative of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said, “A DNR representative conducted an initial Geohydrologic assessment of the site to recommend and help guide the excavation and burial location that provide the greatest environmental protection. We were there to help them pick a location. They dug a 250 foot by 40 foot pit on the eastern side of the hog barn.”
“The CAFO in question is a Class II which can hold up to 5,000 head of full grown hogs.” Said KC Presiding Commissioner Evan Glasgow.
A representative of Miller Farms said they initially considered and researched the option of sending the dead animals to the processor, but after considering the extreme heat, distance of a facility able to take a shipment that size and the amount of equipment and manpower required to load and haul the dead animals they quickly ruled out the idea and the decision to safely bury the hogs on the Miller Farm was made.
If the hogs would have made it to market, priced modestly at .75 cents or .85 cents per pound weighing 250 pounds per hog, Cargill is looking at a loss in the neighborhood of a half of a million dollars.