Posted February 4, 2016

The Baltimore Sun reports that some Maryland lawmakers want to make large poultry processors responsible for the manure generated by their chickens on contract farms.

The bill, known as the Poultry Litter Requirement Act, would hold poultry companies responsible for the manure from their birds and require them to remove excess manure from their contracted farms.

Large chicken companies provide food and medication for the birds they own, but chickens are raised at contracted farms. Once the contract growers return the birds to the chicken companies, they are left with manure and bedding material they can use as fertilizer or sell.
Environmentalists contend these practices place an undue burden on farmers. Per the Star Democrat, farmers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland historically use poultry manure as fertilizer for crops, which results in excess phosphorus saturating farm lands and leeching into and running off into Chesapeake Bay waters. This contributes heavily to the estuary’s pollution problems.
House sponsor Clarence Lam told the Star Democrat that he wanted to make sure the cleanup burden isn’t placed on small chicken growers, as “they’re often the ones being squeezed by the large integrators.”
Spokesperson Julie DeYoung of Perdue Farms, one of the state’s largest poultry integrators, told the Star Democrat,“Through our Perdue AgriRecycle organic fertilizer facility, for nearly 15 years we have been the only poultry company in the Chesapeake Bay region that provides an environmentally responsible alternative to land application. Those who claim we are putting the responsibility for poultry litter on our farmers are choosing to ignore this fact.”
The bill is backed by some Democrats in the General Assembly, but will likely be opposed by the poultry industry, which, according to the Baltimore Sun, has a powerful voice in Annapolis.  Poultry is the largest agricultural industry on the Eastern Shore, and a large part of Maryland’s economy.

Additional info on the bill may be found here.

(photo courtesy pixabay.com)