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 Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Poultry houses can bring benefits

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The poultry business in the nation has certainly picked up in recent years, mainly because of the relatively low prices for chicken and turkey, as well as the health benefits as compared to other meat. Franklin County may capitalize on the growth in the industry by paving the way to help provide poultry houses for large companies, like Perdue and Tyson.

In May, the board of supervisors discussed the possibility of bringing a growth industry into the county. Not only would it provide jobs directly related to the poultry houses, but it could also help farmers save their farms and provide a market for locally-grown grain.

County staff was instructed to look into current zoning to make sure there were no unnecessary obstacles that could discourage a resident to build and operate a poultry house. This has been a problem in other localities and states. Last week, the board approved a zoning change that basically allows by right a poultry house to be built on property zoned A-1 (agriculture). The change helps avoid the requirement of a special use permit, which can be a time-consuming, and often cumbersome, process. The change does include some requirements, though, mainly making sure a facility is set back from dwellings, public buildings, lakes and rivers, and areas with other zoning designations.

With those requirements and the federal and state regulations already applied to the operation of poultry houses, the county is convinced it's an industry that would be safe, pose no threats to the environment and help boost the local economy. Some have expressed concern about any possible detrimental effects these houses could have on small streams, which, of course, run into our rivers and lakes. Water quality is and should be a major priority, but the county has insisted no such hazards are posed with the guidelines that are in place.

Poultry waste is effectively used as an organic fertilizer, but the process is highly regulated. In Virginia and most states, nutrient management plans (NMPs) are required and they are specific to each site, helping poultry producers to properly handle the litter, realize the benefits of the the fertilizer potential and protect the environment.

People also often think the houses smell, emitting odors an entire nearby neighborhood may find offensive. But that is not the case either, according to many published reports as well as supervisors Chairman David Cundiff, who has visited poultry houses. He said the only place you can detect a strong smell is standing in front of the large ventilator fans. Otherwise, it is not noticeable.

Keep in mind that we are talking about poultry houses that are properly operated. We all have heard or seen stories about houses that were not, and that can be disturbing. No one wants that kind of business here.

Georgia is the top poultry producing state in the nation, according to the University of Georgia Extension Office, with some 4,000 farms in operation. That office issued a study that dispelled many myths about poultry production, including those related to the effects on the environment and the smell.

The study concluded: Farms generally represent "green spaces" that protect the environment and preserve the country atmosphere. Well-managed poultry farms operating with best management practices and within state regulations need not be a source of environmental or nuisance problems for a community. Providing reasonable zoning regulations in a community will allow farmers to participate in a very dynamic and economically beneficial business while also ensuring the ability of neighbors to peacefully coexist.

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