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.