The Alabama Poultry & Egg Association is optimistic it can reach a compromise with Alabama’s Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority that would reduce the costs of converting water lines at poultry farms to meet the standards needed to secure contracts with Pilgrim’s. Representatives from the poultry association recently met with the water and sewer authority board, seeking relief from the $62,010 in impact fees to upgrade water lines.

Pilgrim’s requires its growers to have their farms serviced by two-inch water lines, which many of the poultry growers in Limestone County do not have. Limestone County’s policy requires the $62,010 fee to make such a change. However, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association President Randall Ennis and board member Stan Usery recently met with the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors, which expressed a willingness to work with the poultry producers.

Water fee structure designed for industrial users

Ray Hilburn, associate director for the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, estimates that about 16 or 17 poultry growers could be affected by Limestone County’s policy on impact fees for water service. Since poultry growers would not necessarily use more water and put more demand on the water and sewer authority, some flexibility could be granted. According to Hillburn, when the water fee rules were established, they were targeted more toward large industrial water customers.

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“We think we can reach a compromise that is reasonable,” said Hilburn. “It was made for big, industrial projects and that’s not what this is. This is just an individual farmer trying to hook onto a different size water meter. This isn’t a multimillion dollar company. This is a farmer.”

Non-renewal of Tyson contracts brings need for change

Poultry growers in Limestone County and northern Alabama are in a situation of trying to find new contracts after they were recently notified by Tyson Foods their contracts to grow for the Tyson facility in nearby Shelbyville, Tennessee, would not be renewed. Tyson Foods spokesman Worth Sparkman told the News-Courier that those contracts will not be renewed due to the availability of poultry growers located closer to the Shelbyville plant.

With those contracts soon ending, Limestone County poultry growers are pinning their hopes on new contracts with Pilgrim’s, which operates a poultry plant in nearby Russellville, Alabama.