Tell the City of Fremont:
We demand that a neutral third party conduct environmental and economic impact studies on the proposed Costco-owned chicken factory, and a public vote be held before any decision is made on this proposal.
Costco has been demanding that local Nebraska elected officials sign non-disclosure agreements for over a year, while they were making deals left and right in attempts to rezone Ag land for industrial land.
They left citizens out of the loop and in the dark about “Project Rawhide” — the proposed industrial chicken plant’s secret code-name, until Costco’s involvement was uncovered by the Omaha World-Herald. (1)
It wasn’t until citizens started standing up did we find out that Costco was actually the corporation that was behind this shady plan. (2)
Costco wants to not only put a massive industrial chicken plant in a town of 25,000 people, they also want farmers to take out $1.5 million loans from banks to create a chicken barn according to Costco specs.
This means that Costco owns the chicken from beginning to end, locking the farmer into only one buyer. Which means they call all the shots, and the farmers are at their mercy.
This is called “vertical integration” and it’s killing family farms and ranches.
WHAT THE COSTCO CHICKEN PLANT WOULD BRING:
- 231,770,000 pounds of chicken poop
- 43,000 chickens per barn in each cycle x 70 barns x 7 cycles per year = 21,070,000 chickens
- 21,070,000 x 11 lbs. of manure per chicken (USDA) = 231,770,000 pounds of manure from this proposed industrial operation, per year.
Additionally, the Fremont, Nebraska City Council on May 31st approved spending nearly $200,000 to study water and sewer services for the Costco chicken plant project — in violation of state law that prohibits using taxpayer money to pay the expenses of private companies. (3)
(Bold Nebraska was contacted by local Fremont resident Jeff Karls, who asked us to help spread his petition below to our supporters. We’ll deliver your signatures to the Fremont City Council.)
As a Fremont area resident and homeowner, I’d like to see an impact study performed by a neutral third party.
An environmental impact study should include pollution, watershed and air quality.
The economic impact study should report the turnover rate and actual wage min, max and median at current plants. It should also include the impact previous plants had on property values in a 5 mile radius to said plants.
Record of any past history of labor abuse, and infractions for the management team of the new shell corporation created to protect Costco corporate — operating as Lincoln Premium Poultry — should also be disclosed.
Additionally, it needs to be addressed exactly how Costco proposes to fund the additional needs for infrastructure, including roads, schools and water treatment, since the 15-year TIF plan will keep them from paying the lion’s share of those costs.
Once results are published for a minimum of 90 days, the public should have open forums and a voice in the decision on whether or not to welcome this business to our community.
A special election could be held to allow us to decide what’s best for our community — not what’s best for a chosen few with vested interests.
As things are now, the best interests of the people of Fremont are being patently ignored by our representatives as they railroad us into a long term relationship with another packing house business.
One whose benefits are being grossly overstated, while the pollution, stench and outgrowth of commercial chicken farms attached to it are glossed over.
This is a decision that needs to be made by an informed public.
—Jeff Karls, Fremont resident and homeowner
1. “Project Rawhide: Secret Corporation Uses City of Fremont’s Government as Mouthpiece,” BoldNebraska.org, 4/6/16.
2. “Georgia firm would process chickens for Costco at Fremont plant; company faced past immigration raid,” Omaha World-Herald, 4/15/16.
3. “Bold Nebraska says using taxpayer funds for Costco chicken report is against law,” Omaha World-Herald, 6/2/16.