TULSA, Okla.—The Oklahoma Agriculture Board is set to vote next week on a set of emergency poultry regulations after the state suspended dispensing new permits in October.
A key guideline in the new proposal would require poultry houses, with more than 30,000 birds, to be at least a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers) from someone's home. It would also mandate a half-mile distance from schools and other incorporated city limits, Tulsa World reported .
The suspension of new permits was implemented largely due to residents complaining about the expansion of poultry house construction.
Tena Doan, a Colcord resident, said there have been six 66-by-600 foot chicken houses built just 1,000 feet from her front porch. Her neighbors are just 800 feet from the same operation.
"We need some things set. They've got to have some rules because it's gotten way out of hand out here," Doan said.
Residents feel the new rules still don't address all of their concerns, such as the lack of protections for churches, graveyards, parks or historic sites.
Pam Kingfisher, organizer at the nonprofit Green Country Guardians, contends the new guidelines fall short on numerous marks.
"It addresses 150 feet from a highway but says nothing about gravel or dirt roads, which is most of what we have here," she said. "It's completely inadequate, in my mind. It doesn't fix anything and is too little, too late."
Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary and Commissioner of Agricultures, said the suggested regulations would not apply to operations approved and funded prior to the Oct. 8 suspension.
The board would lift the suspension of new permits if the emergency rules pass through legislation, Reese said. He also noted that the proposed emergency rules will not mark the end of the issue for the Agriculture Department.
"This will address some of the more immediate concerns," he said. "It's certainly not the end. It's a step to move forward."