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Large Chicken Farms Ruffle Feathers

18 March 2008

US - The poultry industry in Somerset County in Maine is due to meet the county commissioners this week to discuss ongoing problems with large chicken farms in the county.

Officials with Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., as well as representatives of poultry companies on the Shore, are expected to meet with county officials at 2:15 pm, County Administrator Dan Powell, told DelmarvaNow.

Also expected at the meeting are members of the Somerset County Farm Bureau, he said.

The meeting is a follow-up to one two weeks ago in Salisbury with the Tri-County Council.

The council's executive committee recommended that a panel representing Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties form to examine possible zoning codes and poultry farm classifications.

Meanwhile, Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc said the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Agriculture is to hold one more Eastern Shore public meeting for farmers and other interested parties to learn more about the proposed draft animal feeding operation permit requirements.

These industrial strength permits could impact hundreds of Maryland poultry producers and could be costly to growers while yielding questionable environmental improvements, Delmarva Poultry Industry said.

To obtain a permit, certain chicken producers would have to obtain a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan. With only five persons certified to write these plans in Maryland, it could be years before plans are written. Plans could cost from between $2,000 for no-land chicken farms and chicken farms that do not apply manure to their land to $7,000 or more for large operations.

The comprehensive nutrient management plan would apply to farms with poultry house capacities of 75,000 square feet or more.

An annual permit fee is proposed that could be as high as $1,200. Public inspection of poultry growers' records might be required under this scheme. There are criminal penalties associated with this permit proposal.

The full text of the preliminary draft is available on the MDE website, http://www.mde.state.md.us/AboutMDE/reqcomments.asp#CAFO.

The meeting will be on Monday, March 24.

ThePoultrySite News Desk



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