There is legislation with the intent to expand and put more regulations on discharge permits for poultry houses in Maryland.
This legislation is currently working its way through both the House and Senate, reported WMDT.
House Bill 1312 and Senate Bill 841 would prohibit the Department of the Environment from issuing certain discharge permits for new and existing industrial poultry operations.
The goal is to cut down on water pollution from poultry houses.
According to a retired farmer, this will impact industrial poultry operations that produce 300,000 or more broiler chickens per year, and could potentially eliminate the poultry industry in the state within five years.
“That’s legally how they’re stopping it, by blocking your discharge permits for any chicken capacity over 300,000 per farm, per year,” said retired farmer Eddie Johnson. “It’s a big deal, it will be a big deal for the Eastern Shore, especially if it passes because it will wipe us out.”
Johnson adds that modifying this bill could onset the loss of 20,000 jobs on the Eastern Shore because of chicken houses going away.
The House will have a hearing about this bill and next week it will be heard in the Senate, reported WMDT.
According to an economic impact study by John Dunham & Associates, the chicken industry created or supported 10,980 jobs in Delaware, 6,870 jobs in Maryland, and 5,000 jobs on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
To shield waterways from nutrient-laden runoff, Maryland requires farmers to build separate sheds to store manure and dead birds. A state cost-sharing program aimed at improving the Chesapeake Bay’s health typically helps defray much of those construction costs, however, according to the Bay Journal.