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Photo courtesy of the Greater Topeka Partnership
on February 14, 2018

Kansas bill would set standards for poultry farms

Senate Bill 405 calls for rules related to bird population size and proximity to homes

The Kansas legislature is considering a bill that sets guidelines for future poultry farms to be located in the state.

Under Senate Bill 405, introduced in the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee, poultry barns in Kansas could not be closer than a quarter of a mile from an occupied home, excluding a homestead located on the same property with the chicken barns. The bill also would require farms with more than 125,000 broilers or 82,000 layers to obtain a federal permit, according to a report by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Presently, Kansas is not a state that has a significant amount of poultry production. Cal-Maine Foods does have an egg operation near the central Kansas community of Chase, but the state lacks sizeable broiler operations.

However, the need for laws pertaining to poultry production became more relevant in 2017, when Tyson Foods announced plans to build a new poultry complex that included a poultry plant, feed mill and hatchery in the northeastern Kansas community of Tonganoxie. Following public opposition and withdrawn support from elected officials, Tyson Foods backed away from its plans to build in Tonganoxie and instead announced plans to build in Humboldt, Tennessee. However, the company stated that it would continue to consider other locations in Kansas for future poultry complexes.

Cloud County, which is located in north-central Kansas, is one community that has expressed an interest in attracting a broiler complex. An economic development official there voiced support for the bill.

“The minute this becomes statute, you will be putting an open sign at our borders,” said Ashely Hutchinson, executive director of Cloud County Economic Development. “Give us the tools we need to bring in agriculture economic development in rural America.”

The bill also has the support of Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey, Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Livestock Association and faculty members from Kansas State University.

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