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Agricultural News

Ag Groups in Oklahoma Come Out Opposed to Emergency Rule on Poultry Setbacks

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 05:23:49 CST

Ag Groups in Oklahoma Come Out Opposed to Emergency Rule on Poultry Setbacks On Tuesday morning, the Oklahoma Board of Agriculture will be considering adopting emergency rules to establish setbacks for new poultry house construction in northeastern Oklahoma. These emergency rules regarding setbacks for poultry feeding operations have been met with opposition by agricultural groups filing comments in advance of the meeting.

The proposed rules include several different setbacks for new construction for poultry operations:

"New or expanding poultry feeding operations, including but not limited to poultry barns, composters and other carcass disposal areas, litter sheds and other buildings associated with the operation, shall not be located within the following applicable distances:

    (1) Occupied residences:
        (A) More than 30,000 birds shall be 1/4 mile; and
        (B) 30,000 or fewer birds shall be 1000 feet.
        (C) All distances between occupied residences and poultry feeding operations
    shall be measured from the closest corner of the walls of the occupied residence to the closest point of the poultry feeding operation, excluding land application sites;
    (2) Public school shall be 1/2 mile;
    (3) Incorporated city limits shall be 1/2 mile;
    (4) Public highways shall be 150 feet;
    (5) Property line shall be 150 feet;

Two groups have provided the Oklahoma Farm Report with their comments sent ahead of the Monday mornng deadline for those comments, with several other groups indicating they have sent comments that oppose the emergency rulemaking.

General Farm Organization Oklahoma Farm Bureau writes in a letter penned by the Director of Regulatory Affairs Marla Peek to State Secretary of Ag Jim Reese "We respectfully oppose the adoption of these proposed rules or any amended version of these proposed rules. Emergency rules drafted without initial and considerable industry and stakeholder input are likely to have unintended consequences and be unsatisfactory to all parties.

"Oklahoma Farm Bureau is committed to working with our member poultry growers, the poultry companies, other agricultural organizations, interested parties and the Department in the upcoming legislative session to determine what constitutes appropriate setbacks for poultry operations, so that poultry growers and their neighbors can enjoy the use of their property.

"We are concerned about including “expanding” poultry operations in the proposed rule. Neighbors could decline to sign a waiver and freeze the size of a producer’s operation, limiting the producer’s use of his property and future profit potential. We are concerned about the “100-year floodplain as designated by FEMA” language, which is an exclusion without a setback. We don’t know how many existing, expanding or new operations would be affected by this language. Finally, the proposed rule offers no waivers for sections (a)(4)–(9)."

Also opposing the rules in a letter to Reese is the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. The letter comes from their Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey and states "OCA respectfully yet strongly opposes the use of an Emergency Rule process for this issue. There has not been adequate time for industry and stockholder input and feedback on this issue in entirety. Prior to the December 10th deadline for these comments, ODAFF held only one industry conference call on December 3rd and did not share a copy of the draft proposed rules until ten minutes before the call. Less that one week is not adequate time to consider any rule, even a proposed Emergency Rule.

"We understand and believe ODAFF is aware that the poultry industry has committed to working with all interested parties at this time as well as during the upcoming legislative session to consider appropriate laws and regulations, including possible setbacks. OCA respectfully urges ODAFF to honor this commitment and work with the poultry industry as well as other animal industries that could be affected by potential legislative or regulatory action.

"Finally, the most recent establishment of specific setback distances relative to animal agriculture have been done through the legislative process. OCA is concerned that ODAFF is exceeding the authority delegated it by establishing specific setback distances without legislative action.

"OCA respectfully requests ODAFF to withdraw the proposed Emergency Rule and work with all interested parties during the upcoming Legislative Session."

Click on the PDF links at the bottom of this story to see the letters sent by both the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association.

The Board of Agriculture will consider the Emergency Rule at the December Board Meeting that will be held at the State Agriculture Building at 10:00 AM on Tuesday.




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