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Gilchrist natives ask Commission to protect residents from corporate agriculture

The Gilchrist County Commission listened to fourth generation Gilchrist County natives, James E. and Carolyn Fletcher Vickers on Monday when she asked the board for protection from corporate agriculture that borders their homestead residence at 6969 SE 30th Street in Trenton. Mrs. Vickers explained that she represented the fourth generation that has lived on the Fletcher farm where she and her husband Buddy live.
Bobby Crosby reported to the Commission that Mr. Vickers wanted to file a Code Enforcement complaint to register the issue involving the spreading of chicken manure on Alliance Dairy property by Sanchez Farms of Old Town. Buddy Vickers told the board that he is not against farming or agriculture practices, but when chicken manure fertilizer is spread on a field, the farmer should cut the ground to reduce the smell and the effects it has on the neighboring property owners. Carolyn Vickers explained that she grew up on this property and her father farmed on this land for many years and he was always considerate of his neighbors. Mrs. Vickers went on to explain that when the chicken manure was spread on the fields it was left there for some time. Buddy Vickers told the Commission that when the wind blows in this area it comes from the northwest which blew the smell of the chicken manure over onto their property. Mrs. Vickers explained that when the manure lay on the field, they tried to call and talk with Sanchez Farms to ask when they would cut in the manure to reduce the smell and the effects on this neighborhood. “We never received a call back from Sanchez Farms. When we did finally talk with someone, they told us they didn’t have trucks available to transport tractors to the fields to cut in the manure. Finally several days later, when they did get equipment on site, they worked through the night to get the manure cut in.”
David M. Lang, Jr., Gilchrist County attorney, told the Vickers that this situation puts Gilchrist County in a predicament involving the “Florida Right to Farm Act”. The attorney pointed out that in the Right to Farm Act, it identifies that Farm Operations are not to become a nuisance. They are not allowed to change or alter Best Agriculture Practices that were previously used by a farming operation on the same land.
Buddy Vickers explained that when Alliance Dairy grew crops on the property that were harvested for cow feed, they never had a problem with their Best Management Practices. When Sanchez Farms became involved, the trees, natural buffer areas were removed right up to the neighboring property lines allowing pivot irrigation systems to cover larger portions of the property. Peanuts have now been planted on the fields involving the hundreds of acres. The farming operation continues to spray the crop and the neighbors are constantly having to deal with the drifts of the spray onto their property.
The Vickers asked the Commission to help them protect Gilchrist County residents from being negatively impacted by this type of corporate farming.
Commissioner Martin explained that agriculture operations have always worked with their neighbors to reduce the impacts that an agriculture practice might have on neighboring residents. The Vickers clearly pointed out that Sanchez Farms doesn’t care what happens to the people that live around this former Loncala site property.

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