Monday, February 10, 2014

Rural Arizona residents unhappy they have no say in huge egg factory farm being built their town

Some factory farms in rural areas often operate under few regulations. Such is the case in Tonopah, about 50 miles from the center of Phoenix, where residents are unhappy that they have no say in Hickman Family Farms' plans for an egg factory farm that will start with 2.2 million chickens and could grow to four times that size, David Madrid reports for the Arizona Republic. (Republic photo: Protesting the proposed farm)

"Because the land is zoned for agriculture, state agricultural laws allow Hickman’s to build the 360-acre farm with few permit requirements and virtually no oversight from the state or Maricopa County," Madrid writes. To make matters worse, the farm is owned by the family of the area's county supervisor, who is the person residents would normally voice their concerns about such a project.

The problem, residents say, is that they were given no warning about plans for the farm, and given no voice in whether or not permits were approved, Madrid writes. But the farm only needs two permits, one for use of a floodplain, which is expected to be issued, and the other for dust control, which has already been issued. Billy Hickman, a company co-owner and vice president of operations, told Madrid, “I don’t know that I can please everybody. Hopefully, we can perform at a level that they’re satisfied that. . . . We’re not disrupting their lives.”

Wikipedia map: Tonopah, Maricopa County
Residents disagree. "Signs of opposition line properties along Indian School Road, where the farm will be built. A public meeting last month with the Hickmans drew about 400 residents, most of whom were angry and opposed to the plant," Madrid writes. "The residents fear their dream lifestyle become a nightmare that includes chicken feces, flies, dead chickens, truck traffic, noise and air pollution. They worry the giant farm could endanger underground water supplies and hot springs, and about the Hickman’s use of prison labor." Some officials and business owners are also concerned that the farm will scare off tourists from the popular local hot springs.

The first phase of operations, which are scheduled to being any day now, include "seven 30-foot-tall buildings, each with a 45,920-square-foot footprint, and a 35,000-square-foot processing plant," and "would require about 18 trucks per 10-hour day, seven days a week," Madrid writes. " Future phases would each have seven buildings that house 300,000 chickens in each, and would boost the farm’s chickens to more than 8 million if there are four phases." (Read more)

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