Emergency rules on poultry operations not approved by Department of Agriculture
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) —
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture did not approve the proposed emergency rules on poultry operations in a meeting Tuesday.
According to a statement from Secretary Jim Reese, the board received 191 comments on the proposed rules during the allotted time period. Of those comments, 142 comments argued the new rules weren’t restrictive enough, and 40 believed the proposed rules were too restrictive; nine agreed with the proposed rules.
Reese wrote, “I am disappointed we were unable arrive at a consensus. It is a very important, yet highly contentious issue that we worked very hard to address.”
Reese later writes that the Department of Agriculture will be “punting” to the legislature. It’ll be up to lawmakers to decide what rules, if any, are put in place.
Reese addressed critics of the emergency rules in his statement, saying they were temporary and that the legislature could have rejected them in February. “Emergency rules are temporary. If we adopted them today, they would automatically expire September 14, 2019,” wrote Reese.
He also addressed the current moratorium on approving poultry applications, again saying the decision is a temporary one. “The Board of Agriculture has no intention of leaving the suspension of accepting registrations on permanently. That is why we are moving quickly to determine an acceptable siting criteria. Current law is simply a registration process. It is not a permitting process. It essentially only requires a location, a Nutrient Management Plan, and a storm water construction runoff plan.”
The temporary suspension will remain in place for operations over 30,000 birds until the legislature takes action or until May 2019, whichever comes first.
For his full statement, see below:
We initiated discussion of this process in July.
I have attached 8 hours of public comment, 6 hours of discussion with Poultry Coordinating Council, 4 tours of the interested areas. In addition, Jay Franklin has attended 12 hours of public comment, 2 tours of the interested areas. The entire Board listened to 2 hours of public comment and toured the area. In addition, we have numerous discussions with producers and concerned citizens alike. We posted our proposed rules and received 191 comments. Each member of the board, and at least 5 ODAFF employees ready every single comment in addition to several hours of phone calls. We appreciate all of the input we received.
First I want to address one of the more prevalent comments about emergency rules being unnecessary or unjustified.
Emergency rules are temporary. If we adopted them today, they would automatically expire September 14, 2019. In addition, the legislature could reject them as soon as February. Or, they could reject them anytime they choose as they consider a direction forward.
Similarly, Suspension of Activity is temporary. The Board of Agriculture has no intention of leaving the suspension of accepting registrations on permanently. That is why we are moving quickly to determine an acceptable siting criteria. Current law is simply a registration process. It is not a permitting process. It essentially only requires a location, a Nutrient Management Plan and a storm water construction runoff plan.
From Oct. 1 2017 to Sept. 1 2018 (11 months) we received registration applications for 26 Poultry Feeding Operations (PFOs) representing 160 barns in Adair and Delaware Counties. Of those, 18 PFOs representing 112 barns are in Delaware County.
Because of this rapid growth, on September 12, the Governor Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principle Chief Bill John Baker created a Poultry Coordinating Council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth in NE Oklahoma. Its goal is to ensure that accurate information is being shared between all stakeholders and to protect the important natural resources and rural communities while supporting an important sector of the food chain and the agricultural industry.
On October 8, after the initial Coordinating Council meeting, this Board implemented a Suspension of accepting Poultry Feeding Registrations (PFOs) in order to consider the state's siting criteria for PFOs.
On Nov. 15, this Board toured the vicinity, listened to 2 hours of public comment, researched surrounding states' criteria.
On Dec. 4, ODAFF published proposed Emergency Rule, allowed 6 days for public comment, read 191 comments, discussed the issue with over 50 concerned Oklahomans for over 20 hours.
The intentions of this Board was to take pause, determine the best way forward, and move on.
Out of 191 comments: 182 comments oppose this 'temporary' emergency rule. 9 support the rule.
142 oppose not restrictive enough. 40 oppose too restrictive.
So despite the fact that Emergency rules are temporary, and despite the fact Emergency rules have legislative oversight, and despite the fact we have worked diligently to consider the impact of said. rule. We will not approve the Proposed Rule listed as Item 6.
I am disappointed we were unable to arrive at a consensus. It is a very important, yet highly contentious issue that we worked very hard to address. At the same time, we are happy to punt it to the legislature. We will happily implement whatever legislation is passed and signed by the Governor at toms time in the future. We recognize and would accept amendments to this rule, but we graciously defer to the legislature to determine the final criteria.