Nebraska County Considers Poultry Barns Tied to Costco

11:20AM Feb 26, 2019
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An eastern Nebraska county is considering a couple’s request to raise hundreds of thousands of chickens for slaughter at a Costco processing plant, which proponents say would stimulate the local economy but which some residents say might pollute the area’s water and air and depress property values.

The Dodge County Board will vote Wednesday on Lee and Pamela Camenzind’s application to build eight barns near Nickerson, The Omaha World-Herald reported. The Camenzinds said they plan to raise about 380,000 chickens for Costco’s poultry processing plant in Fremont.

The board last month rejected the family’s original proposal of 10 barns. More than 20 Nickerson residents raised concerns about how the chickens would affect their health, property values, and the area’s air and water.

Resident Randy Ruppert, who opposes the Camenzinds’ proposal, said residents aren’t satisfied with the reduced proposal and are seeking to cut it by half.

The Camenzinds said the concerns are baseless and that they plan to live on the land. They also plan to add vegetation around the property to contain the smell of livestock.

“We’re very hopeful that we’ll get the chance to prove we’re gonna be good neighbors,” Joscelyn Camenzind said.

More than 100 farmers are pursuing permission to raise chickens for Costco’s plant, which is scheduled to open in about a year. More than 40 of the proposals have been approved, according to a plant spokeswoman.

Supporters of the facility, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, said they may consider taking state action to reduce the ability local governments have to reject large farms and accelerate the approval process for agricultural projects.

The operation is expected to process up to 2 million birds a week. The plant is projected to have a $1.2 billion economic impact on the state, Ricketts said.