Health department reaches decision in chicken farm discussion
MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — Discussion and a decision from local health leaders regarding mega chicken farm operations in Madison County was made Friday.
The Madison County Board of Health called a special meeting to discuss concerns associated with the farms.
“There is a group of citizens that are very concerned about the chicken feeding barns that are going up in the Beech Bluff area of the county, and also the southwestern part in the Mercer, Tennessee area,” said Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Regional Director Kim Tedford.
Community members presented their concerns to the Property Committee of the Madison County Commission last month.
Commission members then turned the case over to the health department to explore concerns of any health-related risks from these types of farms.
“This is a path that we’ve never gone down before. We’ve never been asked to regulate any type of agricultural activity in the county,” Tedford said.
“I read all of these supporting documents and all of the concerns that were in these emails that I got from Kim, and honestly, I feel like regulating chicken barns or any kind of agriculture is not a board of health function,” said Dr. David Harris, an Airways Animal Clinic veterinarian.
Harris made a motion that the health department abandon further work on the issue. The other members of the board voted in favor of the motion.
“There are chicken farms all over the state, and I don’t feel like there is a large abundance enough to cause any public health issue,” Tedford said.
Tedford says the board of health and the public health department has a job to protect the health of the entire public.
“My staff has no experience, no formal training to go out and do what this proposal is asking us to do,” Tedford said.
The board will present these findings to the Madison County Commission at their next meeting on Tuesday.