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Local & Regional

Chicken House Operations on Ag Board Agenda

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The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture is set to consider measures Tuesday that would establish regulations for the location of poultry operations.

Most important among the new proposals is one that requires poultry houses with more than 30,000 birds to be at least a quarter-mile (0.4-kilometers) from any home, The Tulsa World reported. Operations with 30,000 or fewer birds would have a 1,000-foot (300-meter) setback.

“In our view, the setbacks were a start but didn’t go far enough and didn’t address things like distances to schools and churches and cemeteries,” said Pam Kingfisher, an organizer behind Green Country Guardians. “It didn’t address at all the biggest problem for our county, which is the concentrations of them, how many of these barns can be placed where they entirely surround neighborhoods.”

New poultry houses in northeast Oklahoma have been approved in recent weeks, despite the state Board of Agriculture’s temporary ban on dispensing new permits last October.

“Because the registration was completed before the original suspension on Oct. 8, it was approved per direction of the previous agency director,” Bryan Painter, Department of Agriculture Communications Director, said via email.

Painter also noted that former-Gov. Mary Fallin’s administration permitted one other application and has two others pending because the operations involve fewer than 30,000 birds each.

The moratorium was chiefly implemented due to Northeast Oklahoma residents voicing concernsabout the expansion of poultry house construction in their communities and northwestern Arkansas.