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Idaho Senate Passes Bill to Limit Farm Size

by 5m Editor
17 March 2010, at 10:11a.m.

IDAHO, US - The Senate committee has passed a bill that will restrict the size of poultry farms in the state on the grounds of environmental impact. The state is preparing for an influx of poultry producers from neighbouring California after a bill was passed there to impose higher welfare standards.

Poultry operations are expected to grow in Idaho, reports Times-News.

No one knows how much they will grow yet but Senator Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home and the chairman of the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee, wants the state to be ready.

The committee heard Senator Corder's 40-page bill on 16 March, which would remove poultry and swine regulation from the Department of Environmental Quality and put it under the authority of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

The bill – one of two Corder proposals that would impact Idaho poultry operations – also puts a variety of requirements in place for poultry operation sites and permits, and groups operations into categories by size.

The bill comes as California has tightened its regulations on confined-animal feedlot operations amid criticism from animal welfare advocates.

"As we go forward in these times, we find more and more groups that are critical of the state's management of water quality and air quality, and we want to provide some assurances that we're serious about that as a state and not only that but the industry's serious," Senator Corder said at the hearing, where the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the Senate for further deliberation.

The poultry industry's largest possibility so far for south-central Idaho is Magic Valley Poultry Corp., which has announced plans to build a 239,000-square-foot broiler chicken processing plant in Burley, with 430 workers and the possibility of expansion to 1,000 employees.

According to Times-News, Cassia County officials have designed a poultry CAFO ordinance for poultry operators with more than 50,000 birds.

Doug Manning, economic development director for Burley, testified at the hearing in favour of the legislation.

He said: "I think this is going to be significant for us throughout the state," adding that he supports the bill's language that keeps poultry and swine categories separate.

He said he does not believe there will be huge droves of poultry operations coming to the state but some will come from California.

The bill draws a distinction between different kinds of birds, as well as whether operations use a liquid manure handling system. Some poultry operations do not, opting instead to turn the manure into pellets that are used as fertiliser, reports Times-News.

For example, the bill requires a state permit for an operation with at least 9,000 laying hens if a liquid manure system is used. If a different manure system is used, a poultry operation can have up to 25,000 laying hens before a permit would be required.