Residents from Omaha and surrounding communities come together for a rally outside of Costco in Omaha to protest the development of the project which would create low-wage jobs, increase water and air pollution, and put farmers' at risk from one-side industry contracts.
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 ever seen. The project would process approximately 400,000 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 21 million chickens will be housed in approximately 450 barns spread out over Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, all upstream from the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas.
The proposed Costco Poultry Operation will process about 400,000 birds per day and add 21 million new chickens to the region.
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.
During the great flood of 2019 the Costco Poultry Processing facility located at Fremont, NE was nearly engulfed by the rising waters. Poor planning, as seen in the above example, put area residents at a public health risk during extreme climatic events, and further threatens area water quality.
A woman walks her dog at Linoma Beach in the spring. This scene is becoming more common in Nebraska lakes and ponds and is caused by excess nutrient contamination from industrial agriculture. This site is within a mile from the City of Lincoln's Water Wellheads.
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: