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Lincoln Township vs.
Premium Standard Farms

A historical timeline (1994-1995)

Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment

Premium Standard Farms (PSF) is a corporation that breeds 90,000 sows or more in confinement in northern Missouri and is funded by outside investors through New York-based investment firms. They came into Missouri after several unsuccessful attempts to locate a site in Iowa. Iowa's governor stated that PSF had tried to violate the state's environmental laws. Lincoln Township is a small rural community in northern Missouri of 146 registered voters. Currently (January 1996), this tiny township is being sued by Premium Standard Farms for $7.9 million. The timeline below tells the tale.

January 1994
Lincoln Township residents learn that Premium Standard Farms is interested in purchasing land in the township in order to build a feeding confinement facility that will feed 105,984 hogs.

February 14, 1994
Residents of Lincoln Township meet with PSF officials and present them with a petition signed by 60 citizens. The petition states that they are not in favor of PSF purchasing property in their community. At this time, PSF is asked if they have any contracts on any land in Lincoln Township. Their answer is "no." PSF is invited to meet with township residents the following day. After two delays, the meeting is scheduled for February 21, 1994.

February 21 , 1994
At a community meeting attended by 120 township residents, PSF is asked if they have placed any contracts on township land in the past week, despite the requests of residents. The answer is "yes, " despite their claim that they will not come where they are not welcome. Township residents again tell PSF officials that they do not want the operations in their community.

February 25, 1994
After several months of discussing the need for township zoning laws, Lincoln Township places planning and zoning on the ballot for the June 7th election. Under Missouri state law, townships have the right to enact zoning ordinances.

March-April, 1994
After initiating contracts in February, PSF begins purchasing land. By early April, PSF owns 3000 acres in Lincoln Township. This site is called "Whitetail Hog Farm."

June 7, 1994
Lincoln Township residents vote to enact planning and zoning laws by more than a 2-1 margin.

June 29, 1994
Lincoln Township's zoning plan is adopted. The plan requires a one-mile setback from any residence in the township and the bonding of large animal waste lagoons. These requirements will relieve the township of the financial burden of clean up and reclamation. Meanwhile, PSF has not yet received state approval to begin construction of animal waste lagoons. A copy of the zoning plan is sent to both the Department of Natural Resources and Premium Standard Farms.

July 1, 1994
PSF receives a letter of approval from the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources. The letter grants approval for the construction of nine animal waste lagoons, but is not an official permit. Six weeks later, the lagoons are completed.

July 13, 1994
Lincoln Township's code enforcement officer sends a letter to PSF informing them that they are in violation of the township's zoning regulations. PSF does not respond.

July 29,1994
PSF files a lawsuit against Lincoln Township for $7.9 million. They allege that the township's zoning regulations are unconstitutional and should be overturned.

October 6, 1994
Lincoln Township files a counterclaim to PSF's original petition. The counterclaim seeks enforcement of the zoning ordinances and the abatement of the facility on the grounds that it is a public nuisance.

January 1995
Citizens groups, environmental groups and farmers from several states join together to launch a coalition to support Lincoln Township and to take a stand against large-scale corporate hog operations throughout the country.

April 1, l995
Willie Nelson, the president of Farm Aid, travels to Lincoln Township to participate in a rally to bring awareness to the effects of hog corporations on family farmers and the environment. This rally marks the kickoff for the national Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment. Attendance is around 3000. Earlier in the week, PSF drops the $7.9 million damages request from their lawsuit, but continue the suit in court.

April 19-25, 1995
The national Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment begin the Journey for Justice in Lincoln Township and march to the Rural Summit in Ames, Iowa, where President Clinton and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman are meeting. Community meetings are held along the journey, and the march ends with an agreement with Glickman to meet with Campaign representatives in Washington, D.C.

May 5, 1995
PSF suspends its expansion in the Texas Panhandle, citing low hog prices as the primary reason for its decision.

June 12, 1995
Thirteen representatives for the Campaign meet for two hours with Secretary Glickman and top United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Topics discussed include: enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act, working for a strong Clean Water Act, redirecting USDA research and lending from factory farming to family farms, and humane sustainable agriculture. Secretary Glickman agrees to meet with member organizations in their owns states.

June 30, 1995
In North Carolina, 25 million gallons of hog waste spill into farm fields as far away as one mile into the New River watershed. The Campaign predicts this is only the beginning.

August 4, 1995
The Campaign applauds Secretary Glickman's announcement of official USDA action against IBP, Inc., the country's largest meatpacker, charging violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

August- October, 1995
Eight hog waste spills, killing over 300,000 fish, are reported in Northern Missouri, two from Continental Grain and six from PSF sites including Whitetail.

October 1, 1995
Farm Aid's 10th Anniversary begins with a town hall meeting "Agriculture at a Crossroad" in Louisville, Kentucky. More than 300 farmers and rural residents join Secretary Glickman and other elected officials. Willie Nelson and Neil Young speak out against factory farms and the right for clean air and clean water.

Published in In Motion Magazine - January 1, 1996