By State Rep. Lundy Kiger
There is no doubt the eight corporate poultry houses located west and south of the city of Cameron continue to cause people problems in using their own backyards as well as contribute to health issues such as difficulty breathing.
As State Representative for District 3, I continue to get calls or messages weekly from Cameron people who say they just can't take it anymore. Over the past several months, a group of local residents tried to talk to OK Foods in reaching a cooperative agreement related to the 69 additional large houses to be built in the Cameron area, but OK Foods had no interest in discussing options and said these new houses would not cause any problems at all related to odor or property values decreasing.
With eight houses built and operational causing issues, and five more built on Red Barn Road also causing problems for people, I believe OK Foods is wrong and really doesn’t care about the opinions of the people living in Cameron. I believe the only thing people have to rely on in helping them right now are their elected officials who care enough to stand up for the people and take on the large corporation. I have no problem taking on OK Foods. It's nearly impossible for a group of citizens to take on a foreign company with deep pockets of money and legal staff, but there has to be options available for people in getting help.
I believe there are options, and I've been talking about it for the past several months. The time has come for other options to be strongly pursued. One group of citizens talked to attorneys in Oklahoma that took part in a lawsuit in Texas where the integrator lost the case, and community members who teamed up together were awarded approximately $6 million by the judge in the case. We've tried to talk as supportive as possible. The people of Cameron and all of LeFlore County want OK Foods and the growers in LeFlore County to be successful. So, we talked with OK Foods with the goals of a win/win and working together in growing the business that didn't ruin the lives of people living in Cameron or other locations in the county. We've seen what the poultry industry out of control did to Delaware County with mega poultry houses built everywhere with no regard to property owners.
As State Representative I presented the idea of a large industrial poultry complex with over 2,000 to 3,000 acres capable of housing multiple farms on one large tract of land with water, electricity and one road to enter and exit the complex without costing county taxpayers in repairing all roads torn up by poultry truck traffic. Most of the new larger farms going in are out-of-state owners that really don't care where they buy land as they have no personal ties to the land. But OK Foods and others have pushed personal property owner rights but don't seem to have any regards to the property rights of neighbors. This is what will cause a county to rebel if OK Foods doesn't change their direction and begin working with communities and neighbors.
OK Foods doesn't seem to care about anything other than making a dollar, and they aren't bashful in making threats to their own growers. So, I don't believe OK Foods has any problems turning their noses up to a community of people who are just trying to live their lives and raise their children.
But the horrible odor of chicken litter is destroying home values and the lives of many people in Cameron, not to mention the school and children playing outside sports programs. I get calls from all types of people living in Cameron begging for help, and I believe now is the time to say "enough is enough" and hit this problem head on. I’m also getting calls from other area legislators from other communities with the same type of odor complaints.
I will do everything possible in helping anyone who has legitimate issues with poultry growers not trying to work with the public with odor, fan noise, or buffers to try and block the noise and smell.
I’m asking anyone who is having an issue with odor or health issues due to poultry to email my office at and describe your situation in a few paragraphs and how it's affecting your life and the lives of your family members. Also, if you don't want your story to be used in any type of litigation, please add that note to your email. But it will take people standing up to OK Foods to fix this issue as it will only get worse with 16 and 24 additional houses now under construction south of Cameron.
We want to work with OK Foods in LeFlore County, but they act like they are above everyone else and can do what they want. According to state regulations, they have that right. But OK Foods has been a respected company and I would hope they could at least meet us halfway in reaching responsible agreements before this gets out of control and we see the beauty of our county and the work that home owners have built with their dreams destroyed.