Proposition to Toughen Poultry Waste Rules

MARYLAND - The Maryland Department of Environment published in the Maryland Register their draft general permit, which implements controls necessary to properly manage poultry litter and reduce nutrient pollution into the Chesapeake Bay and which would be the State’s first ever to require discharge permits for large poultry operations.
calendar icon 16 September 2008
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The draft general permit for animal feeding operations would ensure that Maryland’s largest poultry producers are implementing controls necessary to properly manage poultry litter and reduce nutrient pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed permit, along with proposed regulations, would cover at least 200 poultry operations in the state and bring over 50 percent of the state’s poultry litter under MDE regulation.

The implementing regulations include another first: public review procedures for application and plan submittals will be required under the general permit for animal feeding operations. The permit and regulations address poultry operation documentation and reporting, inspections and facility access, protective buffers, outdoor storage of manure, and permit fees for animal feeding operations.

Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson said: “This permit and the regulations will be a significant step forward in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, local waterways, and our drinking water. It has been 10 years since Maryland first attempted to issue permits covering poultry operations. Today we have a proposal that is legally sound, feasible, and can be implemented right away.”

“The Maryland Department of Agriculture has been working closely with MDE on this proposal to ensure the permit is as manageable and inexpensive as possible for poultry and livestock farmers while further safeguarding water quality,” said Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson. “We thank the hundreds of farmers and others interested for taking the time to offer their expertise and thoughtful and constructive comments, which are reflected in this draft general permit animal feeding operation permit. We ask that they once more take the time to comment in writing and at the public meetings in November.”

Large poultry operations of greater than or equal to 100,000 square feet of chicken house capacity will be required to obtain permits, and the corresponding regulation requires poultry operations with 75,000 to 99,000 square feet of chicken house capacity to formally certify to MDE that they are meeting the same standards required for the permitted Maryland Animal Feeding Operation (MAFO) facilities, including either a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan or an updated nutrient management plan that is integrated with a soil conservation and water quality plan. The Maryland Department of Agriculture has estimated that there are approximately 800 poultry operations in Maryland. Of these, 75 to 100 are large poultry operations and 100 to 125 are medium poultry operations—all of which would be covered by the proposed permit and regulations.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program (MACS), including additional funding provided by the 2010 Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, is available to farmers to assist with meeting any new MAFO requirements. In addition to technical assistance from the soil conservation districts, cost share funding is available for a full range of on-farm best management practices that may be necessary.

The permit requires an integrated soil conservation/water quality management plan and a nutrient management plan to be implemented to control pollution from animal waste from the production area to the field; authorizes water quality and management practices monitoring by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland; and authorizes inspection and enforcement of water quality problems by MDE.

Department of the Environment Deputy Secretary Bob Summers said: “Maryland is continuing to aggressively increase efforts to control nutrient pollution from all sources—industries, sewage treatment plants, urban and suburban runoff, septic systems, and agriculture. If we are going to restore water quality of Chesapeake Bay all sources must be addressed. This permit represents the next big step in this comprehensive state-wide effort.”

A draft of this proposal was first issued in December of 2007. After numerous public comments; three public meetings that took place on the Upper Shore, Lower Shore, and in Western Maryland and were attended by more than 300 interested parties; and special meetings with representatives of the agricultural community, a revised draft was published in May of 2008. Today’s formal publication includes the following changes from the May proposal: a reduction of the transition for storage to 30 days from four years to three years; inclusion of a manure application set back requirement for field ditches; clarification that either a soil conservation/water quality management plan combined with a State nutrient management plan or a federal comprehensive nutrient management plan can be used to satisfy the requirements for MAFOs; and clarification that, for facilities required to submit a notice of intent to be covered by the permit, the existing State nutrient management plan must be submitted with that notification.

With today’s listing of the proposed permit and regulations the Maryland Register, a period for the public to comment will begin. Formal hearings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • November 10, 2008 at 6 pm, Wor-Wic Community College, Salisbury; Guerrien Hall Auditorium at Route 50 and Walston Switch Rd
  • November 12, 2008 at 6 pm, Chesapeake College at Wye Mills; First Floor Theatre in the Todd Performing Arts Center, 1000 College Circle
  • November 13, 2008 at 11 am, Frederick; City Hall Board Room, 101 N. Court St.

Further Reading

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