Please visit my new page where I've assembled articles that are hard to find via Google -- that show Tyson's history of harms.
You've probably heard by now -- Tyson Foods, one of the largest and most vertically integrated meat-packing companies, has been quietly negotiating with Tonganoxie City and Leavenworth County officials to build a 320 million dollar poultry processing complex just North of the I-70 Kansas Turnpike that runs through Eudora, Ks.
Tonganoxie City Manager Brad Brajkovic, explained to me that he and members of the city council signed non-disclosure agreements back in June, in order to learn more details about what Tyson was proposing. He said this was customary when large employers were looking to come to town and did not want any details released to the public, before they were ready, and that officials make such agreements in order to learn details that enable them to calculate if the economic growth anticipated will offset the city and county's costs for infrastructure and services the new business will require.
However it became apparent to me as we talked, that this arrangement had given Tyson 3 months of exclusive time with officials to make a very strong case for how their new complex would bring jobs and economic benefits -- and to do so with no input from consumer or health activists, social justice advocates, environmentalists, proponents of workers rights, or consulting surrounding property owners/residents who bought and built homes in what was zoned, rural residential -- but under this plan could soon be rezoned as industrial and allow the worst possible uses, that no one wants to live next to, and allowed Tyson to secure agreements from key players in our government to advocateTyson's interests to their constituents -- including plans for providing significant taxpayer funding to assist Tyson's business interests.
These secret discussions appear to have created a situation where all levels of our representative government -- from the Kansas Governor on down, are now supportive of not only allowing Tyson to build a facility that will kill over a million birds each week, but also plan to give Tyson an 80% Tax abatement, issue 500 million dollars of industrial revenue bonds for inducement, provide 1.3 million in loans for gas infrastructure, and 6 million in loans for new water treatment facilities --all at Taxpayer cost. In fact within 24 hours of expiration of the non-disclosure agreements -- when the public first became aware of this proposal, not only do elected officials appear to have made the decision to go ahead with all of this before there was any public discussion, but the City of Tonganoxie's website already had links in place encouraging local farmers to apply to Tyson directly to become growers of chickens for them. It is more than apparent, that none of these people realize the catastrophic impact Tyson's business practices have had on farmers, rural towns, employees, animals, waterways, air quality, neighbors and more.
While the Tonganoxie City Manager was very professional and polite to me, and seemed very forthright and open about what was going on, it became clear to me, that he had done little to none of his own research to balance out the sales and schmoozing Tyson had been providing the past three months -- nor to consider the impacts on the entire community -- not just the small subset of citizens likely to reap economic benefit. He was unaware for example the arsenic contaminating most of our nation's rice is traceable to the arsenic Tyson deliberately added to chicken feed for many years to control parasites, and how this has hurt American rice farmers -- as consumers increasingly are refusing to by domestically grown rice, to avoid the arsenic contamination, or that there might even be other really significant harms to his community if Tyson built this complex.
Following that call, I decided that one of the first and most important things I could do, would be to research and assemble an easily accessible list of the documented harms from Tyson's business activities. My hope is that every city council member, county commission member, business owner and citizen of this area or anyone concerned about Tyson's plans will go to my page and at least quickly scroll through the dozens of screen shots of headlines I have assembled (each linking directly to an article) that detail Tyson's many fines, and lawsuits related to violations of worker safety, horrific air and water pollution, and devastating impact on the communities it locates its business in.
No amount of economic growth is worth the tragedy that Tyson will bring -- and it is critical that local farmers, anxious to ride Tyson's coattails, be made aware, that farmers who sign contracts with Tyson have ended up in indentured servitude. Some report feeling pressured to treat animals in their care worse than what they felt ok about -- but couldn't get out of doing so, without risking complete economic ruin.
So please join with me in this effort. If each of us, could reach out to even a few elected officials and a few business owners in Leavenworth county and make them aware of the breadth and depth of harms that a Tyson expansion in Ks will bring, we can send Tyson packing! They cannot proceed, without the land being rezoned to heavy industrial, and I doubt they would do this, if the egregious package of taxpayer-subsidies were withdrawn. That is where we can make a difference. I know that many people are planning protests and while I support those, without truly educating the citizenry and pressuring elected officials to see the real and balanced picture of what Tyson would bring -- protests alone will not prevent this tragedy.
Please take a look at my page: Say, "No" to Tyson in Tonganoxie
Unfortunately it appears that Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County officials have already decided to support this -- before there was any public discussion. Even more shockingly the city has a link right from their page to Tyson encouraging local farmers to be, "growers" for this plant....Here are screen shots from Tyson's site that the city has linked to:
In other words --- growers make the most money, when they squeeze the most bird flesh from the least feed, and they will be penalized if they fail to adopt the practices that other growers adopt -- even if these things add to the torture of the birds. For example, cutting off food to birds soon to be transported to the slaughter plant, prevents the "wasting" of feed, because there isn't enough time for the food to be converted into added body weight.
It's a race to the bottom in terms of mistreatment of animals, and employees. Once a farmer signs with Tyson he is contractually obligated to use their feed and to return to them, "their" birds. The farmer however is responsible for the mortgage on his buildings, insurance and labor. If he doesn't tow the line with Tyson and agree to handle the animals the way they dictate, he risks complete economic ruin.