OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson speaks out on WCJBTV about the chicken factory being constructed near Fort White. There were already many concerns that it is situated atop the Floridan aquifer in a high recharge area very near the fragile Santa Fe River, but new worries have arisen with the potential threat of avian influenza. Columbia County commissioners seem to be taking this latest threat seriously, now that the chicken factory has slipped in under their radar.
Please go to this link to see the video. Following is the text:
FORT WHITE, Fla. — They thought the smell would be the least of their worries, but several Columbia County residents say they have new concerns when it comes to a chicken farm that’s already being built in Fort White. According to Columbia County leaders, there’s an expected outbreak of Avian bird influenza in their area.
Some neighbors are worried for their own animals. Fort White residents like Merrillee Malwitz- Jipson say they’re still trying to fight the construction of the 12-house chicken coop in addition to this new fight.
“We just find it very alarming that this is happening right after this particular farm is coming into the basin,” Malwitz-Jipson says.
Columbia County commissioners are discussing how they would dispose of bird carcasses if they get exposed to this disease, which could be expected in the future. The answer, cover and bury them at a dump site. This all comes after residents voiced their concerns last month about not knowing anything about the start of this construction. Scott Thomason says not only are they concerned about how this would decrease property value and poison their water supply, but they have even greater concerns.
“The biggest concern with the avian flu, is not just for the poultry industry, which takes a big hit financially, it’s that it could start cross contaminating and spreading among humans,” Thomason says.
This week, residents filed a petition for an administrative hearing with the Suwannee River Water management district to have the permit for this farm revoked. The county commissioners, farm owners, and landfill operators TV20 contacted were not available for comment.