Georgia bill would protect rendering plants

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 14, 2005
by WLJ
Livestock rendering plants have been the subject of numerous court cases and citizen complaints for a decade or longer. However, a proposal before the Georgia state Senate would prevent neighbors from suing the facitilities for being a “nuisance.”
State law currently protects farms and livestock ranches from being sued by neighbors for bad smells, loud noise and other activity that could disturb them. But, most recently state Sen. Casey Cagle, R-Gainesville, proposed giving rendering plants the same protections.
Cagle, whose hometown is one of the nation’s leading poultry producers, said the plants should already be protected under the law and his bill merely clarifies that.
However, citizen groups, environmental activists and other lawmakers are lining up against the plan, saying it takes away one of the main tools to control an industry that has been guilty of multiple environmental violations and violating “good neighbor etiquette.”
The primary reasons for lawsuits being filed against renderers is the noxious smells and steamy haze normally associated with the processes.
“There are ample ways in which you can address a problem facility. There are remedies to those issues, but not on the grounds of it being a nuisance,” said Cagle.
Opponents of Cagle’s proposal say no state law, other than nuisance laws, protects property owner’s from unpleasant smells—a common rendering plant complaint—and environmental laws can only be used after a plant has already caused damage.
“We don’t understand why property rights of the rendering plants should trump the rights of the homeowners,” said Mark Woodall, who monitors legislation for the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club.
A state Senate committee advanced the bill with little discussion late last month, but some lawmakers say it’s in for a fight if it goes further.
Several processing organizations said they are aware of similar rendering plant protection bills being drafted in at least 10 other states, and that at least five states already have some protection afforded to renderers, if past environmental violations aren’t overly egregious and persistent. — WLJ