Neighbors react to halt in chicken farm permits

LEACH, Okla. - You might see it on your drive before you cross into Arkansas--chicken houses popping up all over the Eastern Oklahoma countryside.

Just this week, the spike forced Oklahoma regulators to put a hold on new permits.

Once rolling pastures, ripe for grazing cattle in Eastern Oklahoma, are now home to a growing poultry industry.

A group of concerned neighbors in the area said its counted more than 50 chicken permits on file with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture in just the last year.

Suzzanne Maupin, who lives on her great uncle’s allotment, is now a neighbor to rows of chicken houses.

"It’s just a mess," said Maupin.

She’s concerned about the impacts a big farm will have on her well water.

”Where will we get water? If that well goes dry what are we going to do about it? we depend on it for drinking, bathing, our laundry, everything,” said Maupin.

A state working group looking into the increase in poultry permits announced a halt as they look into the impacts of the industry.

The secretary of agriculture said one application is pending right now for a chicken house. The watchdog group said the damage may have already been done.

"I was excited to hear that. I think it’s a little bit too late because there are already so many that have been built or in the process of being built,” said Diane Gentry.

Oklahoma's poultry industry responded to the halt:

“The industry is looking forward to working with the state of Oklahoma and its citizens to find productive solutions to allow the industry to grow and bring jobs as well as economic benefits to Oklahoma." -- Director of Oklahoma Operations, Tyler Norvell.

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