TOPEKA, Kan. – On Feb. 22, the Kansas Senate passed a measure by a 30-9 margin that would allow industrial chicken farms to house more birds closer to homes and communities in the state.
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 number of birds allowed.
According to a Topeka Capital-Journal report, a Kansas State Univ. professor estimated the metric would allow eight chicken barns to be built together. The Sierra Club Kansas chapter, among other environmental groups, came out in ardent opposition of the bill stating that as many as 11 confined animal feeding operations could be constructed together at one large-scale facility. The group says that the under the bill “suburban and rural areas, and those with up to 99,000 birds could be located a mere 100 ft. from a neighbor's property line.”
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. So far, there has been no movement on that part of the bill.
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 put the project on hold while considering 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 included a processing plant, hatchery, feed mill and related operations. The project appeared to be the same size and scope as the complex in Tonganoxie.