TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Jeff Colyer has signed into law a measure aimed at luring large-scale poultry processors to set up shop in Kansas.
Colyer signed the bill on Tuesday. It passed in the Senate last month and in the House March 12, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
It greatly expands the number of chickens growers can house in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) before they would be required to obtain a state environmental permit.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture and other agribusiness groups strongly supported the bill, arguing it would enable Kansas farmers to produce more “value-added” meat products for consumers.
But the bill came in the wake of a recent controversy in northeast Kansas where Tyson Foods proposed building a large-scale slaughter and processing plant in Tonganoxie, sparking widespread public opposition.
Tyson would rely on large-scale CAFOs such as those provided for in the bill to supply its chicken plant. Those facilities are owned by individual growers who buy and raise chickens on contract with Tyson.
Growers using what’s known as a dry manure processing system could house up to a third of a million birds at one location before being required to obtain a permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, according to the bill. Such a permit would impose several requirements, including minimum set-back distances between the barns housing the chickens and other inhabitable buildings or property lines.