Chicken Association, watershed groups partner on $2 million program to improve farming practices

Delmarva Chicken Association photo.

Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA), the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance are partnering with chicken growers in a $2 million cost-share program to accelerate the adoption of chicken farming best management practices in Delaware and elsewhere in Delmarva.

The three-year effort, which began accepting chicken farmers’ applications for cost-share support this spring, is backed by a $997,327 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation through its Chesapeake Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, a partnership between NFWF and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Delmarva Chicken Association, the state of Maryland, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance are contributing a combined $1 million in matching funds to the initiative. The Chicken Association will work with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance to implement the conservation measures.

The Delmarva Chicken Association, based in Georgetown, has long encouraged growers to plant buffers and take other steps as residential developments move closer to farms in a number of areas.

“Since the 1980s, farmers have increased food production to meet growing demand while meaningfully reducing agriculture’s yearly nitrogen and phosphorus contributions to the bay, contributing to its improved health today,” said Holly Porter, DCA’s executive director. “Innovative, collaborative efforts like this one between the chicken community, environmental groups, and funding partners provide an opportunity to realize even more agricultural nutrient reductions, benefiting everyone in the watershed.”


Farmers who participate in this cost-share program can be eligible for up to 100 percent cost-share on conservation initiatives. Practices can include:

  • Trees around the perimeter of farms to provide a visual buffer from neighbors and roads, reduce noise, dust and odor, absorb soil nutrients, and provide shade.
  • Large warm-season grasses near tunnel fans that can act like an outdoor air filter, capturing dust and feathers and absorbing ammonia.
  • Pollinator plots that can be planted in the swales between houses, around retention ponds, or in open areas that normally are mowed, reducing flooding and capturing soil nutrients in their roots.
  • Additional farm-specific conservation practices.

“The partnership that has been forged between Nanticoke Watershed Alliance (NWA) and Delmarva Chicken Association is a testimony to each organization’s commitment to preserving the environment while supporting our local economy,” said Lisa Wool, executive director of Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. “Through direct collaborative work with the farmers, we strive to have the industry thrive while protecting one of the last wild rivers, the Nanticoke. On-the-farm initiatives that keep our waterways clean on our environmentally sensitive peninsula are good for all inhabitants of the region and beyond. NWA is privileged to be a part of this and to facilitate these impactful efforts.”

DCA is also working with Delaware chicken growers to administer a $192,000 grant from the state of Delaware, matched with $203,000 of DCA funds, to operate a cost-share program funding installation of two kinds of vegetative environmental buffers on Delaware broiler farms. The program covers 90 percent of eligible costs for technical assistance, installation, and reporting.

Those who want to learn more about the cost-share programs or contact DCA about enrolling a farm in the program can visit, call DCA at 302-856-9037, or email