New regs aim to ease construction of chicken houses in Maryland

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A coalition of agricultural groups met in Salisbury to hear about a relatively new Maryland Department of the Environment program that should ease the process of building chicken houses in the state.

Delmarva Poultry Industry Executive Director Bill Satterfield said it has been easier to build chicken houses in Delaware and that may continue, although Maryland could close the gap with the new program.

Due  to federally required procedures related to the handling of rain water on new or expanded chicken farms, chicken house construction in Maryland has been limited.

Under a plan developed three years ago by the Maryland Department of the Environment and administered by the county governments, burdensome, time consuming, and costly steps were in place to make sure that rainwater on new and expanded chicken farms was properly handled to prevent pollution.

When seeing that the new rules were stifling construction, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley directed the Department of the Environment to streamline the process. At the meeting, the department explained the new “standard plan” that should make for an easier, more timely, and less costly permitting process while maintaining the environmental benefits of enhanced stormwater management.

Because the authority for issuing stormwater management permits lies with the county governments, the agricultural groups urged each county to accept the new state plan as written and not add to the state’s requirements.

Satterfield told the more than 60 people at the meeting that for the new state plan to work, “we need the cooperation of each county permitting authority to accept it with few, if any, additional county-specific requirements.”

Bob Summers, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, said his department stands behind the new state program. Summers and Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance personally have been involved in the discussions to create the new “standard plan.”

Kurt Fuchs, government affairs officer for MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and Matt Teffeau, assistant director of Government Relations for the Maryland Farm Bureau, said the meeting was a successful effort to inform the counties and soil conservation districts about the new state “standard plan” that should lead to the construction of more Maryland chicken houses to help keep the chicken industry strong.

 

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