To the editor:

An open letter to Tyson Foods:

On behalf of the citizens of Tonganoxie and surrounding areas who have flocked together by the thousands to oppose your proposed $320 million poultry processing plant, I’d personally like to apologize if we have ruffled any feathers. It’s just that we don’t appreciate back-door politics and non-disclosure agreements, particularly those that will drop our property values, irreversibly pollute our waterways and air, impact the future of our children and substantially increase our taxes to your benefit.

We don’t believe the rosy picture you try to paint of your environmental/sustainability efforts in your letter. After all, one only has to search online for “Tyson Chicken environmental issues” to begin to unravel what has been a legacy of revolting, deceptive and unconscionable practices, including repeated fines for repeated offenses, e.g., 20 felony violations of the Clean Water Act in 2003 and $3.96 million for violations of the Clean Air Act in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. 

Believe it or not, some of us in Kansas believe in treating animals humanely and are repulsed by the numerous articles that can be found detailing horrific accounts of animal abuse, of which any company – let alone a faith-based one – should long ago have imposed stricter controls.

And while we appreciate the offer of 1,600 jobs, when we read in Forbes Magazine, the Washington Post, etc., that poultry workers have complained of being routinely denied bathroom breaks or that they end up crippled for life because of repetitive motions, we have decided to pass on your generous offer.

At the end of the day, you can throw all of the promises of good corporate citizenship you want at us via your open letter, but we’ve uncovered too many negatives and wrongdoings to be persuaded.

You have a track record that has galvanized the Tonganoxie community against you and you are crying “fowl.” We sincerely hope you select another location. Until we know you are gone for sure, however, we will continue to attend Leavenworth County Commission and city council meetings to ensure full transparency, continue the grassroots effort led by Citizens Against Project Sunset and demand that our politicians who have not responded to our collective voice hear us and do the right thing in case you decide to come back to Tonganoxie.