Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

Posts tagged ‘chicken manure’

I’ve Been Chastised!  Critics Want Answers

My post from yesterday  Jihadists, Beheadings? In Maryland?  alluded to the tightly woven web within the State of Maryland and the chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula.  I’m not just picking on Maryland.  The Peninsula or the Eastern Shore, as it’s often called, also encompasses parts of Delaware and Virginia.

I’ve been chastised and reminded that it’s not just Maryland.  For that matter I could go further and say that, in my humble experiences, I’ve seen the very same things across the country in any place the poultry industry sets up shop.

For all of you unidentified and not so friendly people out there that I’ve heard from —

Yes, I admit, I do, enthusiastically, support the Poultry Litter Management Act (PLM) introduced in Maryland’s House and Senate (SB 496) (HB 599).  I also encourage everyone to read the PLM Fact Sheet to clear up all of the misconceptions and downright untruths floating around.  Being informed and making up your own mind is the best gift you could give yourself, and it’s free.

There are several reasons why I’m in favor of the PLM.

Firstly and most importantly, the Chesapeake Bay belongs to all of us. It’s a National Treasure.  There isn’t any single one of us who has the right to continue to destroy it and, yes, this is a pet peeve of mine.  All of the efforts to clean up the Bay are not working as every year we see more or expanding “dead zones” appear.  Major culprits who are degrading the Bay have not owned up and said “I’m going to accept my responsibility, because I care”.

The chicken companies who operate on the Delmarva Peninsula have been in denial since the very first day that disastrous consequences struck.  I can go all the way back to the mid 1990’s when the Eastern Shore had a horrific outbreak of Pfiesteria piscicida.  Massive fish kills and human illnesses abounded.  Nutrient overload mixed with the right weather conditions was identified.  Upon further investigation runoff from chicken manure became part of the mix. The poultry industry immediately started pointing fingers, mostly at farmers.  I might add that this was my environmental awakening as a contract farmer, and realizing that we had serious problems, in in more ways than one.

Coupled with blaming farmers, local watermen who make their living from the bounty of the Bay were the ones being most affected.  Denial of responsibility by chicken companies pointing the finger at farmers and watermen affected, who by the way are neighbors to the farmers, set the stage for a wedge being driven into the community.  Sides were drawn up.  Does that sound familiar, folks?

Since then, millions upon millions, if not billions, of tax dollars have been thrown at the attempt to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and take care of chicken manure.  Oodles of programs have been created to assist farmers with taking care of the manure simply because the chicken industry repeatedly says that the farmers can’t afford it.  Overabundance of chicken manure is transported out of the area. Meanwhile, billion dollar chicken companies have sat back and taken a free ride, courtesy of taxpayers.

In come the threats and intimidation.  Chicken companies threaten to simply walk away.  We will move out of the State and go somewhere we can get away with polluting.  Thousands of jobs will be lost.  It’s the same old story of being held hostage by an industry that doesn’t believe in being a good corporate citizen and taking care of its industrial waste as any other industry has the responsibility of doing.

I see it as not being respectful and mindful of the communities and state the industry operates in.  They see it as more money in their pockets, a way of doing business.  We have been made to feel beholden to an industry that doesn’t give a hoot about anything other than dollars and cents.

In the volatile debate over the PLM Act in Maryland sides have been drawn up.  Departments within the State appear to be hostages to the chicken industry, once again, citing “the Eastern Shore’s chicken industry regarded as one of the most import aspects of the Shore’s economy”, according to The Star Democrat.

So okay, I’ll bite!  I’ll pretend that I believe that.  What I don’t understand is that millions of tax payer dollars are supporting programs to clean up chicken companies’ industrial waste.  Why are taxpayers footing the bill?

I’m a common sense kind of person however I just don’t get it.  Maybe someone can help me out!  On the one hand you have industry saying that farmers can’t afford to pay for disposing of chicken manure so we need to set up taxpaying programs.

On the other hand DPI, the chicken companies trade union, trots out farmers who say they and their workers are making a good living from the chickens they raise under contract with the companies.

Add the fact of State governmental agencies and a handful of lawmakers saying how important the industry is to the Eastern Shore economy, like the economy would collapse without the industry.  If there is all of this money floating around with contract farmers and within the industry, again, I ask, why are taxpayers footing the bill?

The surge of 200 new chicken houses planned for the Eastern Shore exacerbates the manure problem.  The new houses are much larger than what has been customary and can house up to 60,000 chickens apiece.  Warehouse sized buildings, to be exact.  Mostly, we’re not talking about the local farmer adding chicken houses to the farm we’re talking about investors with no ties to the community building chicken warehouse developments. (There are reasons but that’s a story for another day)

The industry has convinced government officials that “this doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is growing”, says Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary, Joe Barten-Felder.  I underline the word necessarily because, here it comes again folks – it’s all in the words!  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the industry is NOT growing, either!

Maintenance is also cited by government officials.  Simply put, more than anything it’s replacing old buildings or old facilities with new facilities. The chicken industry wants new, bigger, with all the bells and whistles chicken houses.  I wonder which one of you older existing contract farms will be the ones terminated to accommodate the NOT growing chicken industry?  Sounds to me like something has to go to make room for the new!

We currently have to transport manure out of the area because of the excess.  Does anyone think that 200 bigger houses equals more chickens equals more manure?  These chicken warehouse developments have no land to apply manure or produce any crops to take up the nutrients.  Like too much icing on a cake, the Eastern Shore can’t handle any more manure.

Quite frankly, I find it insulting that the chicken industry throws out vague statements and expects that we all buy it.

Everyone else in the State has to pay their way in the effort to clean up the Bay for through sewer taxes, the flush tax for septic systems, fees for the septic hauler who pumps and dumps human waste, environmental taxes, and on, and on, and on.  Adding insult to injury, we have tax dollars piled on to take care of chicken manure.

I see this whole scenario as communities being ripped apart over chicken manure and companies who want others to pay for cleaning it up.  If I haven’t given enough reason to support the Poultry Litter Management Act, I can give you more!

Poultry Litter Management Act Fact Sheet

Jihadists, Beheadings? In Maryland?

The “Top Story” for February 16th in the Delmarva Farmer, a publication of American Farm Publications caught my eye.  In bold print the title read “”Environmental jihadists” blamed for environmental bill”. 

Seeing the word “jihadists” in the title lead me to believe that this was some very serious and scary stuff.  After all, the Delmarva Farmer is widely known and read within the farming community and most often that same community takes the word of the publication as the gospel truth.

I went on to read the story and I did indeed become very concerned and disturbed.  The issue relating to the title in the story is about the proposed Poultry Litter Management Act which has been introduced in Maryland’s House and Senate.

The legislation was being protested at the Maryland Agricultural Commission’s monthly meeting.  The commission, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) website —  “The Maryland Agriculture Commission is appointed by the Governor of Maryland and serves as an advisory body to the secretary and deputy secretary of agriculture. The commission consists of 30 members representing various commodities across Maryland, and includes both a consumer and a University of Maryland (ex officio) representative.”

One of the poultry industry representatives on the commission, Andrew McClean, said “I liken this [the legislation] to environmental jihadists, they’re trying to economically behead us”.  Whoa!  That is some very serious talk.  There is nothing humorous in McLean’s statement and it’s a highly inflammatory likening.

This came from a person representing the poultry industry that has been appointed by the Governor of Maryland and is an advisor to both the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture?  Having the ear of our highest office in the State and the highest offices in MDA?  Just what kind of rhetoric is the State of Maryland allowing to whip up the public?   This is awfully scary stuff!

To further the State’s agenda, a list of legislation that MDA is watching was given to committee members saying that the Poultry Litter Management Act would bring about co-permitting that would require that chicken companies verify that the farms they contract will follow state mandated regulations before chickens could be placed on farms.

That in itself is BUNK!  Company contracts already have a provision that the farmer will adhere to all state, county, and local laws.  This gives the contracting chicken company the “out” from legal implications should the farmer not be following the laws.

When the Poultry Litter Management Act becomes law, it will be for the chicken companies, who by the way own the chickens, to become responsible for the manure that their chickens create.  Any industry is responsible for the waste it creates.  Any good corporate citizen does this it’s a cost of doing business and a part of free enterprise.

However, in the State of Maryland the industry has had lawmaker’s ears and many programs were initiated to clean up the overabundance of chicken manure belonging to the chicken companies.  In other words the good citizens of Maryland have been giving the billion dollar chicken industry a free ride when it comes to industrial waste responsibility.  All of the government programs created are at the courtesy of taxpayers.  The one’s specifically for shouldering the responsibility of chicken industrial waste amounts to nothing more than corporate welfare.  Why does a billion dollar industry need precious tax dollars that could better serve much more important needs within the state?

We are at a time in our country’s history when the words “jihad, jihadist, terror, terrorist” are associated with radicalized Islam and ultimately ISIS.  Beheadings by these groups are not uncommon and we are seeing in our own country “lone wolf’s/ jihadist”, if you will, committing uncivilized and barbaric acts in a civilized nation.  There are disturbed people out there that one doesn’t know what they are capable of.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard threatening type statements about beheadings coming from those who are supposed to be “leaders” in the farming community.  Is this what the farming community wants to be portrayed as?

It’s beyond my comprehension why a publication such as the Delmarva Farmer would even print such inflammatory stories using bold headlines.  Is it for the purpose of inciting disturbed people to commit horrendous acts?  I’ll bet a milkshake that the editors didn’t think of that view.

I’ve previously stated that the chicken industry tears apart the moral fabric of our communities.  I need to amend that statement to include questions about the morality of publications as well as State leaders allowing highly inflammatory and inciting statements into advisement of any government business.