Many Nebraskans are very familiar with the concerns associated with large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). GC Resolve has concerns too. Impacts to water, air quality, socio-economics, horrendous contractual agreements that turn farmers into indentured servants, and labor abuses typically contribute to detrimental effects that diminish a community’s quality of life. In regards to the proposed Costco Poultry Operation near Fremont, area residents are letting their concerns be heard, as many key questions have still not been addressed.
Costco’s proposed operation is unlike anything else our state has seen. The project would process approximately 350,000 chickens per day, with a feed mill and a hatchery, all located in a floodplain adjacent to the Platte River. Discharged waste would be dumped into the Elkhorn River, just upstream from the Ashland wellhead location that provides drinking water for Lincoln residents. Over 17 million chickens will be housed in approximately 450 barns spread out over an 11-county area, all upstream from the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas.
This isn’t the first time we have seen large corporations try to force themselves into our state while hiding from a public discussion. In the recent past, business approaches from the meatpacking and the fossil fuel industries (such as the recent case of TransCanada) have exemplified unethical practices that have left many of us in Nebraska with a bad taste in our mouths. Nebraska is a strong pro-business state, and our principles have guided us towards business practices that respect one another. And most of us do not believe good business means profiting at the expense of other’s well-being.
While there are numerous unanswered questions, one of them is crucial and imperative. If this project were to be allowed, would it further endanger the quality of our state’s precious water resource? This concern does not just apply to Fremont, but also the larger community in Eastern Nebraska, where approximately one million people reside.
Recently experts on water quality have began to chime in. A recent John Hopkins University Research letter written to the Fremont Mayor and City Council highlights concerns to water quality and quantify from large poultry operations, and also raises concerns about air quality.
Nitrate levels in Nebraska have continued to increase with the growth of agriculture industrialization. Excessive nitrate exposure can cause health issues like Blue Baby Syndrome, which can be deadly in infants, and in some cases various forms of cancer, thyroid conditions, reproductive issues, and diabetes.
At a recent League of Women Voters Information Event co-sponsored by 13 other groups, experts raised concerns of the impacts an operation such as the Costco project could have.
Others in Nebraska are starting to take notice as well. Check out this radio interview done by Coby Mach's Drive Time Lincoln: