Better Manure Management
Can you wrap your head around one ton of animal manure? Can you imagine how much space it would take up if piled high? Now, imagine 44 million tons of that same manure. That’s the amount of manure farm animals produce every year in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Annually, factory farm animals in Maryland produce about 100 times more than the amount of human waste being treated at the state’s wastewater plants. Just one dairy farm with 2,500 cows will produce as much waste as a large city with over 410,000 residents.
Manure – if it’s from animals that have not been treated with antibiotics or given arsenic or other feed additives, can make a great fertilizer for crops. But in Maryland animals produce much more manure than farmers can responsibly use on their farmland. When too much manure is applied, farm fields become oversaturated with it, and the excess ends up washing into our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. This manure is so harmful it creates something known as “dead zones.”
The Eastern Shore of Maryland produces so much chicken manure the state subsidizes a manure transport program. This means that we, the taxpayers, pay to have this manure shipped away from factory farms. We’re not even sure where it goes. Marylanders have invested millions in tax credits to subsidize pollution reduction efforts, but there is very little transparency to tell us how well our tax dollars are being used and where this pollution ends up.
It’s all part of a rigged game where a few huge chicken corporations work the system so they can avoid taking responsibility for the pollution their industry produces. The rich corporations own all of the birds that are raised in Delmarva, but they pay ‘poultry growers’ to raise the birds for them while still controlling virtually every aspect of the process, right down to what the birds are fed. But when the big chicken corporations come to collect their birds for slaughter, they leave behind all of the chicken manure. Where it all ends up, we don’t know. We do, however, know that far too much of it ends up polluting our waters.
The current system simply isn’t fair. The companies own the chickens but the individual growers own the manure, and as a result the companies rake in huge profits while the growers sometimes can’t even make ends meet. Ultimately, farmers and taxpayers end up on the losing end of this pollution.
Fair Farms supports legislation that would shift the burden of responsible manure disposal from the individual growers to the large poultry companies who produce this waste.
- Maryland’s Community Healthy Air ActLegislation Would Study Air Emissions from Industrial Animal Farms Everyone deserves the right to know if the air they breathe could be making them sick. While the state of Maryland monitors air pollution from cars and factories, the same cannot be said for one of Maryland’s largest industries that also emits pollutants- industrial animal agriculture. Maryland’s ...
- Lisa and Joe Inzerillo: “What’s in the Air we Breathe?”Guest blog post by Lisa and Joe Inzerillo, Princess Anne, Md. Forgive the pun, but we live with a fowl stench. That’s because a mega-chicken farm was built right on top of our home. This new poultry complex isn’t the family farm you may have in your head. It’s more like the Super Walmart of farms. There ...
- A Fowl Stench: Local Communities Concerned about Air Pollution from Industrial Poultry Houses
- Fair Farms In Annapolis to Advocate for the Poultry Litter Management Acthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxtC7SaPqRs To take action on the Poultry Litter Management Act by writing to your legislators, click here.
- Polls: Support for Fair Farms’ Legislative PrioritiesBy Mitchelle Stephenson When Fair Farms launched in December, we had two top legislative priorities for the 2016 Maryland General Assembly: antibiotics legislation (SB 607/HB 829) that would restrict the routine use of human antimicrobials in livestock that is not sick; and the Poultry Litter Management Act (SB 496/HB 599), a bill that would place the responsibility of ...