Senate Bill 405 to increase poultry processing throughout Kansas

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Senate Bill 405 was passed by Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer on March 20, 2018 according to the Kansas State Legislature, which would require confined chicken facilities to obtain a federal permit to hold more than 125,000 or more broilers and utilizes a dry manure system, as suggested by the Kansas Legislative Research Department.

Additionally, the bill would require that chicken facilities multiply the number of laying hens by 0.3 percent as the animal unit measurement calculation.

According to the State Legislature, Jackie McClaskey, Secretary of Agriculture for Kansas, felt the need to add value to agricultural commodities throughout Kansas. McClaskey reportedly felt this was a common theme regarding the Agricultural Growth Strategy Project that aims to grow the poultry industry.

The senate bill, according to the legislature, was written to codify the regulations concerning the poultry industry where either non-existent or unclear statutes existed before.

Craig Volland, chair of the Agriculture Committee and Air Quality Committee of the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said an estimated 330,000 chickens are more than likely to be brought into the state of Kansas, all which could be placed within 1,320 feet of habitable structures with this bill, as corporations like Tyson Foods begin to set up shop in Kansas counties.

Zack Pistora, lobbyist for the Kansas Sierra Club, said facilities will be about 500 feet long by 50 feet wide and would hold up to 30,000 chickens apiece. Pistora also noted the the new facilities could create about 1600 jobs in the state.

In early September, the community of Tonganoxie, Kansas, was introduced to the idea of a Tyson Foods plant being brought to the area. Amy Parsons, who resides about 10 miles outside of Tonganoxie, said the community had no idea that the notion was even in the works.

“It was a total shock to the community,” Parsons said.

Jim Karlesking, Kansas representative of Tonganoxie, unsuccessfully tried to attach a rider to the bill allowing for the protest and petitions and public votes in counties where a processing plant is being proposed.

“I’m disappointed that the amendment Jim Karleskint put forth did not pass to allow for communities to have more of a say,” Parsons said.

Cecilia Pruitt, Tonganoxie citizen, said she became concerned with the issue when she learned that the plant was to be placed less than two miles from the local grade school, middle school, a private Christian school, a nursing home and an independent living facility because it could impact the community’s “most vulnerable” population.

Parsons said she thinks the highest concern for chicken facilities in the area was the impact it could have on the infrastructure that would occur with large trucks constantly driving back and forth on the roads to transport chickens from the facilities to the slaughterhouse.

Pruitt said Toganoxie citizens had public meetings regarding Tyson in the park, which were used as a way of open communication within the community in conjuncture with the Facebook page named No Tyson in Tonganoxie.

With support from Tom Holland, senator for the Kansas third district, and Karlskint, Toganoxie blocked the construction of a Tyson plant within the community, leaving other Kansas counties open for business.

Ashley Hutchinson, executive director of Cloud County Economic Development, said she is in favor of adding this large-scale poultry processing to the state and isn’t opposed to welcoming the new industry to Cloud County.

“Farmers were interested in having another end user to sell grain to,” Hutchinson said.

McClasky said livestock processing facilities do not only add value and benefit the state job-wise and within the livestock industry, but it in turn supports crop industries as well.

The placement of the first chicken facility under Senate Bill 405 in Kansas has yet to be decided.

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