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Kansas Legislature
Johnson County Election Office
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Communities of the
25th District

Mission Hills
Mission Woods
Prairie Village
Roeland Park
Westwood Hills


In Topeka: 
State Capitol Room 352-A
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Fairway
4124 Brookridge Drive
Fairway, KS 66205

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Extension
Alabama Cooperative Extension, Auburn University
US Poultry
University of Minnesota Extension

Dear Friend:

I am often asked if I focus on policy other than education. The answer is yes; it is impossible to serve in the legislature without being exposed to a wide variety of policy areas. I work hard to understand the issues we vote on because in most cases, the questions are not black and white. The answers to most policy questions reside in the grey areas and it is usually necessary to find a solution to move us in the right direction.
The latest of these policy areas is the law concerning chicken farms. I spent the weekend learning about chicken farming, manure handling systems and the Kansas regulatory guidelines concerning these operations. Along the left-hand sidebar, you'll find a sampling of the videos I watched to learn more. Click here for the existing statute in Kansas, and a link to the bill we voted on today, SB 405. It passed 84-37, I voted yes.
Why does this matter?
SB 405 has been nicknamed by opponents as “The Tyson Giveaway Bill.” To be sure, it was triggered by the attempt to bring Tyson to Tonganoxie last fall. The secrecy of that deal was a travesty. The ensuing outcry from the community was valid and understandable. The actions taken by the county commissioners to rescind their package of economic incentives were the appropriate market reaction for that community.
That said, nothing in state statute prevents Tyson from changing to another community and proceeding with their plans. Much of the concern in Tonganoxie was the handling and smell of waste, or offal. Current statute only regulates wet waste systems, but new technologies exist which use dry manure systems. SB 405 adds guidelines for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that utilize dry manure waste systems for laying hens and broilers.
The Secretary of Agriculture testified in our Agriculture Committees that Kansas statutes and regulations that apply to the modern poultry industry are either non-existent or unclear. The bill would establish the animal unit measurement calculation for chicken facilities that use a dry manure waste system as the number of laying hens or broilers multiplied by 0.003. In addition, the bill would require a confined chicken facility to obtain a federal permit if the facility uses a dry manure system and confines 125,000 or more broilers or 82,000 or more laying hens.
My choice to support the bill is driven by the desire to add regulatory certainty and establish guidelines for the industry where they currently do not exist. Dry manure systems are not currently forbidden by our statutes, they are simply not mentioned. Wet manure systems require holding ponds and lagoons, and increase water use. Dry manure systems repurpose the waste products for use in farming as a fertilizer, replacing chemical fertilizers in the process.
No decision is perfect. I am well aware there will be folks unhappy with my vote. I understand, and appreciate hearing from those of you who took time to reach out. My vote reflects my desire to ensure we can hold companies like Tyson accountable to a clear set of guidelines.
One other note – Kansas does not allow corporate-owned farms. If Tyson proceeds with plans to build a processing plant in Kansas, the chickens would be raised on family farms. We have several Kansas communities that are vying for the project, and many family farmers who would like the opportunity to expand their business in this manner. I respect the decision of the community surrounding Tonganoxie to oppose such an operation, but it is important to ensure the proper protections are in place for areas that welcome such an addition. 
Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas about these or other legislative issues. It is my honor to serve you.


Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
Paid for by Rooker for State Representative, Sheila Davis, Treasurer,