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New Senate Legislation Would To Give Communities The Ability To Limit The Size Of Confined Animal Feeding Operations

OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation proposed for the 1998 State Legislature would give Oklahoma communities a tool to limit the unimpeded expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

State Senator Bill Gustafson (R-El Reno) has introduced a bill to give county commissioners the authority to call a special election for the purpose of placing size limits on CAFOs. If approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, the bill could impact future concentrated animal feeding facilities.

"Many Oklahomans are deeply concerned about the rapid expansion of corporate hog and poultry farming," said Senator Gustafson. "This proposed law would give our counties a way to keep our communities from being seemingly overrun by pigs and chickens."

The bill also puts some teeth in the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Act adopted by lawmakers last year. It calls for any person found in violation of size limitations adopted by county voters to have their operating license revoked. Violators would also face fines and possible jail time.

"We must take every step to ensure the safety of our citizens by demanding these CAFOs abide by every environmental and size limitation standard," said Senator Gustafson. "The purity of our drinking water and the health of our communities depend on it."

Under the bill, existing CAFOs would not be subject to a limitation approved by a county commission. However, any expansion of such an operation would be impacted.

The bill also gives a county commission discretion as to whether a single election may provide for size limits for a single species, or for multiple species. If approved, the bill would take effect on July 1, 1998.

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Delvin Kinser, Media Specialist, (405) 521-5698