Chicken Farm Coming to Fort White

Chicken Farm Parcel Has Now Been Clearcut

Information has been given to us that an Environmental Resource Permit has been granted to build a chicken farm just a little over a mile southwest of Fort White, contiguous with SW Wilson Springs Road and SW Briarpatch Terrace.  The permit, which can be seen at this link,  (note, if all internal links in the permit document are not active, see note below)  authorizes the construction of 12 chicken houses, each 44’ by 500’ which is about 22,000 square feet each.  Each structure can house up to about 26 o 30 thousand birds, for a potential total of about 360,000 chickens.   The Florida Administrative Code which outlines the rules for this type of facility, Rule Chapter 62-670, can be seen at this link.

Columbia County has designated this Land Use for AG-3 and according to the County Planner, any sort of agriculture is allowed without permits or posting to the neighbors.  The property encompasses 77 acres and the entire project, under roof, will add up to about 6.5 acres total.

Even though the manure from the chickens is designated to be removed from this location,  the potential for pollution is cause for concern, especially given the proximity of the Santa Fe River (appx. 1.5 miles) and the fact that the river is already high in nitrates and is on the DEP list of impaired waterways and is a designated Outstanding Florida Waterway.  The plan is for the manure to be marketed as organic fertilizer, as this is the trend as farmers try to rely less on man-made chemical fertilizers.  Chicken waste  has one of the highest nitrate values of all solid wastes, as explained at this link.

It would therefore seem wise to recommend that people residing nearby get their wells tested.  Ideally it should be done immediately and once again about the time the chickens move in, before the chicken raising has begun, in order to have a baseline for comparison.  Then, after the farm has been operating, the wells should be tested periodically.   Of main concern might be nitrates and fecal coliform presence.

Below are two labs where this might be done:

Florida Department of Health in Columbia County.

A more thorough water test can be done here:
Green Water Lab  in Palatka, FL.

NOTE:  if all links in permit are not working, please go to this  Link for the map.  Here for  the Notice of Intent and here  for the Technical Staff Report.



  1. The county meeting Thursday evening
    Can the exact address or a connect to maps be posted here? I’m not familiar with school board location in lake City. I wouldn’t mind following some neighbor either.
    I will be on the news on TV20. politicians need to be professionals not good old boys need to be for the people. So remember the names you talk to we the people CAN make a difference the next election all the way to the top.

    1. An Ecological Disaster for Florida’s Sacred Springs – It is baffling how local agencies and designated officials charged with protecting the environment and quality of life could even consider such a destructive idea. Our springs are sacred, a national heritage and a rare natural resource treasure. We aren’t talking about a few chickens dancing about in the back yard. This is about a million chickens on 77 acres in a neighborhood a mile from the Santa Fe River. That’s a lot of poop going somewhere, then there are all the dead animal carcasses, viruses, fertilizers and the smell of death and disease to wash it down. Sacred springs, habitat protection, water quality and quality of life… where is the sanity in this proposal? Why even have local policies for the protecting the planet if they so grossly ignored. All of the effort to curb the public (locals and tourists) from polluting the river are the size of a grain of rice compared to the mountain of impact a factory chicken farm & manure operation would have. What has happened to the cost benefit analysis here? Environmental policies? The importance of eco tourism as a way to at times, be the best or only solution to preserving what small slivers of nature remain? Please help wake up the sleeping captain of this sinking ship.

  2. I live I believe closest to this mess other than our good friend Charley. Has any one realized the 50 foot deep sink hole directly connected to the north Florida cave system (as I’ve heard I’m not a cave diver). But do not these water filled caves eventually seep into the very water supply we drink from?
    Do you all remember the two hurricanes that came through and electricity was off for two weeks? Do you all remember the roads that were closed because they were UNDER WATER between here and Lake city.
    The reason I mention this what will happen to the run off from this flooded chicken farm I would imagine it would go to the low spot and drain directly into the cave system. It proved to me we do have at times in history when a hurricane Will dump a large amount of water right here.
    If I remember correctly their names of the storms were jean and Irene??
    Property value we all worked so hard for is now spiraling down AH! but will our taxes go the same way.I think this commission will make sure they are paid a healthy wage off our backs.

  3. I moved to Fort White 18 years ago to escape the pavement and over-population of the Tampa Bay area. The peaceful country setting that my wife and I have chosen to raise our kids and settle as a family is now going to disappear. It sickens me to think that this is actually happening. One of the things that I used to brag about the most was the quality and flavor of my well water. I’m quite sure that the future taste and health benefits of my well won’t be effected. We all know how much Chinese industry cares about the environment.
    Chinese chicken factory in Fort White… REALLY?!?!
    As many of you may know, on May 2, 2004 I was injured serving my country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I’m now confined to a wheelchair and have a partially paralyzed diaphram that makes it difficult for me to breath. My wife and I have been overwhelmed by the love and well wishes by the Fort White community. For this, we thank you.
    My breathing issues cause me to have great concerns about the air quality with 960,000 chickens on my doorstep. I urge everyone to tell your neighbors, call our county commissioner, attend county commission meetings. and join together to stop this factory!
    Chinese chicken factory in Fort White…HELL NO!

    1. Every time I drive up Wilson Springs Rd , Damn there it is again and they are building the hell out that Chicken Farm .We must take a stand and stop this… Call County Commissioner 386 752 2451 and complain or go online and write them

  4. I live so close I will smell the farts from this chickens like the Bailys. I talked to or county commissioner Rusty Depratter dist 2 which is what we or for those that didn’t Know. This man is not for us out here , he told me that he did not agreee with me about anything that has been said here. About the rivers ,the people here the vistors to this area , the smell he said they wasn’t going to smell ota then. Please everyone please call him he said I was the few that cared about this ,his # is 386-752- 2451 he may not answer so you have to call the court house and ask for him.if them let them do this then what’s next. Plant farm {{water problem / digging hug holes and putting bad old house in and coveing over it. { water problem} our water want be drinkable this guy told me that I should not have moved where it was alg zoned. I live in this spot 21 years. Never dreamed this would be in our future. I have swim in this rivers all my life this just isn’t right please call him

    1. Sounds like you and other residents should write/email to the Governor, get the media involved (T.V. newspaper), write/email the federal EPA. is another way to start a petition, and reach a lot of people.
      If one chicken ranch is permitted, you can bet more will soon follow!

      1. It mean that there is a open hole directly to the river it doesnt go threw the aquifer like drip threw the sand into the water table. A hole open into the aquifer a main vain to the river.

    1. Tomorrow, Merrillee will be asking SRWMD why that fact was not included in the ERP that was issued back in July. That ERP is the major reason why this was allowed here, the DEP that issued the ERP said it would not harm, that this land use is not in an environmentally sensitive area. Merrillee will be asking to see LiDAR mapping and then after that, Merrillee will be going the Columbia County to see all the AG-3 zones in our area, the land in the southern end of the county, closely connected to Santa Fe and Ichetucknee. Not sure if she can get any formal review, but she will try her best.

  5. I lived close to a chicken farm in N C and you absolutely do not want the smell that this will produce. the chicken houses will be automated, so you can forget the jobs and Im sure for the few that are hired will be their own people from another farm that doesnt have to be trained I am right around the corner from this and I say NO Not GOOD,

    1. I called courthouse today and yes they applied for or issued a permit for a JTC poultry farm on wilson springs rd and they are moving fast to get it going we need a petition started

      1. Robert here is your first to sign your petition. Teresa Cooner. Wilson springs rd. Get it started please we need this done.

  6. I would be willing to make a contribution to the investment. We need a good lawyer to draft an investment club. Someone needs to talk to the landholder to see if they will even entertain our idea and then we need to find high ground where this is acceptable in our County, for the chicken farmer.

  7. What can we do? We can start a petition. Another suggestion is getting stakeholders together, kind of like an investment club and buy the land back. How much money will it take $250,000 $300,000? 10-20 investors. Once it’s bought those people can subdivide the property and sell it to the kind of neighbors they want. IN THE MEANTIME, we must demand that the Columbia County Comprehensive Plan Book and LDR’s get revised. Also, find land on high ground, for the chicken farmer, within the County where something like this would work. This land is in a river basin associated with our destination/tourism river culture. wrong place to put this. It’s gonna really hurt Fort White and hurt all the property values in the area. This road, Wilson Springs Road, would have been the next potential road to build infrastructure for residential use (sewers and waterlines), it would have had the potential to fix the town’s water supply problems. We have to get smart about land development now, because south FL is moving up as they are experiencing salt water intrusion into their water supply and will not be able to stay. We have to prepare for exodus.

  8. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against agriculture and feeding the world. Florida has plenty of open range, why is a large chicken operation being constructed smack dab in the middle East f a populated neighborhood?? Come on people. The preserves millions of acres for wildlife what about us humans? Take that farm out there where I see 1000 acres vacant. Go build your house next to it.

  9. What about the dead chickens, where are they disposing of them. OK what about Bird Flu. What about the manure, that many chickens where is the crap going. OK how about the Flies. Oh we are going to live in a great neighborhood. Thanks Columbia County.

  10. We need to stop this chicken operation. Where do we start?? Our Santa Fe River. Got to get petition started or something. How many signatures do we need. I read to knock on every door. !!!

    1. Phyllis Buster I’ll draw up a petition never hurts to try. Remember when 911 addresses where changed around here and everyone was getting a different street name, they where even changing the name of Wilson Springs Rd. OK I wrote up a petition for our road and got everyone to sign it along with the Wilson Springs road turned it in to the proper authorities and it worked, we got to keep our road name. Anything is worth a try.

  11. Yeah I know our family has been on this land for 65 years. Things change and that’s expected but not having our wells ruined we have good wells and I would very much like to keep it that way.

    1. In fort white but much longer in the county
      But it doesn’t matter how long. What matters is we all pay our taxes and have worked hard to make something out of our land and homes. We all want people to do good and make a living but not at the expense of others. I truly hope all this turns out ok. But I was always trained to prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

    2. Well there alot of people around here that need the work. But yeah it s pretty bad. We’ve been told that they are gonna be on concrete and have sewage systems to handle the waste until its picked up to be processed. If nothing else they should be able to grow 20lbs tomatoes on the drain field lol

    3. Ye but you know how loud the fans and pumps are. We have worked on dairy farms all our lives and the fans and pumps are loud. I cherish the peaceful home when I get off work. Our area smells good, and is so nice. No more it will be. Garentee!!

  12. This sucks. I live right there next road over. Lived same residence 32 years. Slipped this in on us, as usual that’s the way this country is operating. Money talks. Who cares about us long term homesteaders.

  13. Exactly and they said we could have all of the chickens we want. Lol
    So that’s a good thing
    I just hope they cook really good oriental food and like to host Lol. You gotta stay positive man

  14. But with all of that atleast its not going to be a trailer park or some shit with a ton of people on it.
    I’m not really sure what would be worst but I have a good idea.

  15. I’ve not meet the owners but I’ve been told they are foreign and have such places in 5 states. They supple all the chicken for publix.
    I will be having water samples tested and checking to see what we as a community can do.

  16. Yeah they stink and we don’t want it next door. At all. Having said that if they have the permits its all legal and they have the cash to back it what grounds do we have?
    And to what end?

    1. Matt please don’t give up. We have lots of people working on this. I would like to tell you what has been done by a few people that live here. Will know more after tue.

    1. What can we do to stop this thing. I live right there by it. There are way to many residents in that area. I can not believe that huge operation is go in right in the middle of all these homestead families. We need to stop it. Please help. Do we need to get s petition started???

    1. I’m following it Meg Milatz..I am about 200-300 feet from the chicken house they are building now.?? maybe a bit more. It’s not what I envisioned for my home in 1998 when I bought my land. On the other hand, Stinky chickens may be a refreshing change from some of the neighbors.

  17. Amazing…yes this is happening now…the construction near the rear of the newly cleared acreage is def a chicken house operation…commercialism is creeping closer…doesn’t anyone remember the commercial dairy farms across the river in Gilcrist County and how the neighbor water wells were tested and high amounts of amonia were detected. …today Ft White’ s piped and billed household water is officially “non- potable “…are we rural residents next? Can this be IGLE or UN Agenda 21 leading to UN Agenda 30? Just yesterday my daughter posted on her FB page that WATER or the lack of access to potable water is her #1 concern globally. ..she recounts that 50-90% of the global population don’t have clean drinking water. ..even some of 3RE residents don’t have clear, clean well water…America is headed to become a 4th world country skipping 2 & 3….the folks along the rivers here were quick to dissuade Sabal Trails from crossing the Itchetucknee but were are they are this issue? Is this another Chinese operation? Where the chickens are raised here and shipped to China for processing? Wake up neighbors! !!!

      1. Condemned to Die—Prison Camps for Chickens
        Since these birds must reach a marketable weight in a mere six to eight weeks, they are pumped full of hormones, growth enhancers, and of course, antibiotics. When chicken live their lives confined to small spaces, diseases flourish. And in order to control the inevitable pests and the spread of diseases that could result, their environments must be sprayed heavily with chemical pesticides. Back in the days of our great-grandparents’ family farms, many of these chemicals hadn’t even been invented. how can they say they are going to market their fertilizer as “Organic” ?

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