Poultry industry worried about proposed legislation in Maryland

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Courtesy of Delmarva Poultry Industry
Courtesy of Delmarva Poultry Industry

Georgetown-based Delmarva Poultry Industry is warning members about a bill introduced in Maryland.

Senate Bill 773, the Community Healthy Air Act, calls upon the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct an environmental assessment of concentrated animal feeding operations,” the trade association noted in a release.

Click here for a Maryland Reporter story on the hearing that was held Tuesday.

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“This could mean there will have to be air monitoring stations on each CAFO chicken farm in the state. That would be an expensive and time-consuming data collection process that needs to be done over the course of a year or more, not just for a few weeks or days,” the release stated.

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. noted that the EPA has been working for more than 12 years to figure out how to monitor chicken house air emissions and one multi-year, multi-university study cost more than $15 million.

Delmarva Poultry claims the bill is “being pushed by a handful of persons in Wicomico County who do not want chicken houses built and operated in agricultural areas of the county and might be allied with those who want to shut down the chicken industry.

Sponsors of the bill are from Montgomery and Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.

“If a study is to be done, it needs to be done right and this bill, we believe, will not produce accurate results,” the release concluded.

The poultry industry has been under fire on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Virginia as new poultry houses are built. The industry has claimed that much of the construction has come from replacement of old facilities and points to a report indicating that that the number of chicken houses has dropped.

However, critics have claimed that the region is seeing an expansion of production with larger chicken houses that come with more environmental hazards.

The industry is also moving north into Cecil County, MD, drawing fire from some residents. In Delaware, poultry growing operations are to the south in Kent and Sussex counties.

Delaware has seen little controversy over chicken houses but has experienced disputes over processing operations.

The Delmarva Peninsula is experiencing population growth, with newcomers often being retirees who are not familiar with the chicken industry or agriculture in general.

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