By Horace McQueen

Getting along with the folks next door is creating some controversy in farm country. In East Texas, poultry producers need an outlet for the poultry litter removed from chicken houses. When the litter is spread on pastures right next door without advising the neighbors, anger often is the result. When litter is to be spread on pastures, it would help to inform the neighbors about the operation. And preferably don’t spread the litter on weekends where many residents are at home. Also explain that using the litter grows grass and that it loses its’ “luster” quickly! Most all poultry growers want to do the right thing—most live in the community with an investment to maintain. But sometimes the big poultry companies don’t work with new growers coming into the chicken raising businesses. Some new growers build houses near waterways that drain onto neighboring farms. Then there is the damage to roads caused by feed and chicken carrier trucks going to and fro, often twenty four hours a day.

Our economic development gurus and town leaders who used taxpayer dollars to entice the poultry integrators to come our way should be questioning the “prosperity” they promised. No question that many jobs in the hatcheries, processing plants, feed mills and rendering plants have been created. But many of those new jobs are tedious, have high rates of job injury and employee turnover. Most of the employees don’t make enough dollars to buy homes and become stable parts of our communities. Our beef producers, row crop farmers and others who work the land shop locally for supplies and keep our economy humming. The poultry producers buy little from local merchants as their feed, supplies and other needs are controlled by the poultry companies that own the birds.

What is the answer? We don’t seem to have one! We need jobs that pay good wages to people who excel in their occupation. We need to use our natural resources—timber, beef, oil, gas, water to bring a revival to our area. A dozen or more companies like Vulcraft would be welcomed. They take a raw product, turn it into quality products in demand nationwide and compensate their skilled employees for a job well done. If we don’t offer real opportunities for our young folks the “brain drain” will continue. They are leaving home, getting an education and want more for their families. That is the “American Dream”. They will return if satisfying opportunities are offered! After getting an education, the younger generation is not going to be motivated by working for a poultry processor.

Thought for the day—money can’t buy happiness, but it keeps the kids in touch!

horace@valornet.com