Saturday, November 29, 2008

poultry pollution

We've talked about the negative effects excessive poultry production has on the Chesapeake Bay in some previous posts and Ian Urbina addressed Maryland's growing poultry pollution problem in his recent NY Times article. It turns out 650 million pounds of chicken manure is produced in our state each year. Holy crap. Pun intended. From the article:

As the amount of cropland in Maryland has shrunk and the number of chickens raised has grown to 570 million, these mountains of manure have become a liability because the excess is washing into the Chesapeake Bay, one of the nation’s most polluted estuaries, and further worsening the plight of the fishermen who ply its waters.

Poultry is Maryland's most lucrative form of agriculture and state officials are finally starting to realize that being able to sell masses of skinless, boneless chicken breast for around $2 a pound has consequences, like growing phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the bay.

Read about proposed regulations and farmers reactions here as well as in the aforementioned NY Times article. I'm not sure, however, how fair it is for the liability for manure to fall to the growers raising the chickens, rather than the larger companies that "own the birds, provide the feed and drop off a new batch of chicks every eight weeks."

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