Kansas House approves industrial chicken farm bill

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TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill by an 84-37 margin that would allow more large-scale poultry farms and feeding operations to be built in the state. The Kansas Senate passed the same bill on Feb. 22. The bill now goes to Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer.  

The final draft of the Senate bill would increase the number of animals permitted in a confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) by changing the formula for determining the amount of birds allowed.

The bill also allows farmers to use dry manure processing systems to raise up to 300,000 birds before they would need a state health permit. The CAFOs would then supply the processing plant.

Kansas legislators tried to amend the bill for a countywide public vote before any large-scale poultry processing facility would be allowed in Kansas.

Jim Karleskint of Tonganoxie, Kansas, and Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, Kansas, announced the new proposal for the law at a press conference on Feb. 1. Opponents in the House tried to amend the bill for a final time on March 12 but were unsuccessful.

In September 2017, Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods announced plans to build a poultry complex on 300 acres near the city in northeast Kansas near Tonganoxie.

The project was to include a hatchery, feed mill, processing plant and supporting infrastructure. Production capacity at the facility was estimated at 1.25 million chickens per week when the plant became fully operational. It would have provided 1,600 jobs and require 300 to 400 chicken-raising houses on farms and ranches in a 50-mile radius.

Hundreds of people and many advocacy groups protested the announcement with “No Tyson in Tongie” signs spread throughout Leavenworth County. By October 2017, Tyson removed Tonganoxie as one of its proposed locations for the poultry plant.

Tyson then announced plans to delay the project to consider other locations after county commissioners in Leavenworth County, Kansas, voted to rescind a resolution of intent to approve revenue bonds totaling $500 million to support the construction of the complex.

By November 2017, Tyson Foods announced plans to build a new chicken production complex in Humboldt, part of Gibson County in western Tennessee. The complex includes a processing plant, hatchery, feed mill and related operations. The project appeared to be the same size and scope as the complex planned for Tonganoxie.  


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