The Problems with CAFO’S

With a tremendous amount of work, the “No Tyson” organizations in Sedgwick County, Haysville, and Clearwater were able to keep Tyson from building a factory farm in District 93. We should all be grateful for several reasons:

They distort state politics.

“I can understand why they want to be free of regulations and scrutiny, but I cannot understand why we should let them.” That is a quote from Drew Edmondson, the former Atty. Gen. of Oklahoma, who sued Tyson for polluting the scenic rivers of Eastern Oklahoma. Tyson responded by pouring tens of thousands of do;;ars into elections to defeat Edmonson and elect an attorney general (Scott Pruitt) and a governor who were less concerned about pollution. Tyson now wants to expand their business into Kansas, and the Kansas Legislators were amenable to “letting them”.

The 2017 Kansas Legislature, after intense lobbying by Tyson, passed SB 405, which changed the animal conversion rate, i.e., the number of chickens whose manure weight equals that from one cow, from 0.008, the normal value, to 0.003. That small change had big consequences. The result of that bill is that now a chicken farm may house 330,000 chickens, and it may be placed within 1/4 of a mile of neighboring houses and within 100 feet of the neighbor’s property line. Would you want a chicken farm that close?

They harm the surrounding communities. 

The chicken farms and the processing plant would bring a influx of workers into the area. The surrounding cities would have to supply the infrastructure to support the farms. They would need additional water resources, housing, roads, schools, and sewage treatment plants. The chicken manure would pollute the streams and the ammonia, odors, and bacteria produced by the farms would endanger the environment for the local residents.

They are bad for the workers and the chicken farmers.

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The workers in the processing plants stand shoulder to shoulder and perform the same operations all day long. They are often poorly paid and often work overtime to make ends meet. As they found in Oklahoma, the farmers who raise the chickens are sometimes not treated much better. The farmers often have to borrow to build million dollar chicken barns, but Tyson controls everything. They provide the baby chickens, they deliver the feed, and they control what the farmers are paid for the chickens. Farmers who don’t play ball with Tyson may find themselves cut out of the business and bankrupt.

They are bad for the chickens.

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The chickens are confined so closely that they can hardly move, and are given antibiotics to control disease. The antibiotics residues left in the meat are not good for consumers. And, such overuse of antibiotics results in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

As Dr. Temple Grandin said about the ethical treatment of animals, “If we’re going to eat animals, we should treat them  humanely and with respect while they are alive and give them a painless death. “ Do you think the chickens in the photo are treated humanely?

They are bad for the environment.

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Nutrients from waste cause fish kills

Besides the damage to the local environment, waste from the chicken farms end up in streams and rivers, and affect everyone down stream. The waste has E. coli and other bacteria and is laden with nitrates and phosphates. The extra nutrients cause algae blooms and oxygen depletion which causes fish kills. The wastes have even been linked to dead zones in the oceans.


There should be a law.

Kansas needs legislation for home rule, whereby county residents would have the right to file petitions against industrial-agricultural chicken operations and have a county-wide vote. Help elect people who will make that happen.

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