In Maryland, Focus on Poultry Industry Pollution
WILLARDS, Md. — Standing before a two-story-tall pile of chicken manure, Lee Richardson pondered how times had changed.
“When I left school and started working the land, this stuff was seen as farmer’s gold,”Ě said Mr. Richardson, 38, a fifth-generation chicken grower, explaining that the waste was an idealfertilizer¬†for the region’s sandy soil. “Now, it’s too much of a good thing.”Ě
How to handle the 650 million pounds of chicken manure produced in the state each year has sparked a fierce debate between environmentalists and the state’s powerful poultry industry. State officials hope to bring¬†Maryland¬†in line with most other states next month by enacting new rules for where, how and how long chicken farmers can spread the manure on their fields or store it in outdoor piles.
“We don’t let hog or dairy farms spread their waste unregulated, and we wouldn’t let a town of 25,000 people dump human manure untreated on open lands,”Ě said Gerald W. Winegrad, a public policy professor at theUniversity of Maryland¬†who is a former state senator. “So why should we allow a farm with 150,000 chickens do it?”Ě