Baltimore residents showed support for the Poultry Litter Management Act, a bill that would shift the financial burden of cleaning up the waste from big poultry operations away from Maryland contract farmers and taxpayers and onto the big chicken companies that own the birds.
Residents asked Delegate Cory McCray for his support.
"Baltimore residents really care about this fair and commonsense bill that does what needs to be done: makes Big Chicken responsible for cleaning up after itself, instead of leaving that job to taxpayers and farmers," Doretta Coley, a Baltimore resident said in a statement. "We're making sure our legislators hear from us in Baltimore by generating 50 calls in one day to Delegate McCray's office to support the Poultry Litter Management Act.
Poultry companies own the birds, but farmers grow the chickens under contract. The farmers are responsible for disposing of the birds' litter at their own expense, with subsidies from taxpayers to transport some of the manure.
The Poultry Litter Management Act would "make companies responsible for disposing of excess waste - that is, litter that cannot be used by contract farmers - in a sustainable way, taking the burden off of farmers, and protecting the Bay in the process."
"The Poultry Litter Management Act is about clean water and a fair system for farmers and taxpayers," said Alexa Kaczmarski, spokesperson for Food & Water Watch. "We can't keep allowing Perdue to pollute our waterways on the dime of taxpayers and farmers. It's time for our legislators to listen to Maryland residents, not to corporate interests like Perdue."
Maryland has been facing the growing issue of excess chicken manure that can't be used as fertilizer. In 2015, Governor Hogan created regulations that allow farmers to spread chicken manure only in the amount that can be used by crops.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture estimated that 228,000 tons of excess manure are currently applied to crop fields in Maryland. Phosphorous from the excess manure is polluting local creeks, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.