By Nick Smith, The Tennessean/ The Associated Press The Tennessee snake farm where more than 20 people died in June was one of the worst in the country.
But it’s not just the farm that caught the eye of national security and law enforcement officials.
In this Oct. 18, 2017, photo, a blackberry farm truck rolls down a road near the Snake Farm, a Kentucky corn field, on the outskirts of Louisville, Ky.
(AP Photo/James B. Devaney)The Tennessee snake farms are not new.
They’ve existed in Kentucky for decades.
But, in recent years, the state’s law enforcement and public health agencies have been taking an increasing interest in their operations.
Now, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has opened a formal investigation into how the Snake Farms, located in Louisville, Kentucky, got into the top spot of its annual list of the state worst snake farms.
The Snake Farms were the only Kentucky farm to rank among the top five in the U.S. in 2014, according to the Kentucky Poison Center.
The state reported that more than 1,000 people died from snake bites in Kentucky in 2016, a figure that was up from the previous year.
The investigation began last year after the Kentucky Farm Bureau filed a report with the U,S.
Department of Health and Human Services about the Snake farms.
In the report, the farm received two citations and three warnings for violating the federal Poison Control Act, a provision of the federal government’s Food Safety Modernization Act.
The department, which has the power to fine farms for violating laws, took no action.
“It’s been a long, slow process,” said Bob Schleifer, the former head of the Kentucky Snake Farm Association.
“We’ve been very proactive, very cooperative.”
Last month, the department received a request from Kentucky’s attorney general’s office, which requested information about the state department’s investigation.
The state has been working with federal law enforcement agencies and the state farm bureau for more than a year to get to the bottom of how the Kentucky farms got into its top spot.
The two agencies will now conduct a joint investigation.
If the investigation is completed, the investigation could lead to additional fines or penalties for the farms.
If the findings are positive, the agencies could be forced to take additional steps to prevent future incidents, according a news release from the Kentucky Office of Public Health.
The agency is also investigating whether any violations occurred at other Kentucky farms.
A person answering a phone at a Kentucky farm was not immediately available for comment.
Kentucky Agriculture Department spokeswoman Kelly Houghton said the state has a number of laws in place to protect animals.
Those include requirements for breeding, quarantine and treatment, she said.
“We do not breed snake to avoid injury, and we do not intentionally put people at risk,” she said in a statement.
“However, there are a number laws in the state that address breeding for snake and, as the information indicates, the Snake farm is not one of those.”
Schleifer said he’s disappointed the state agency didn’t take any action sooner.
“I’m not sure it’s worth a damn, but they can take a lot of time and effort,” he said.