Perdue Farms agrees to review operations

September 21, 2006|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN REPORTER

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday that Perdue Farms has agreed to review the operations of its contract chicken farmers to help them minimize the runoff of manure into Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

The program, called the Clean Bays Agreement, does not introduce new pollution regulations or cleanup requirements, and it does not take away responsibility from environmental agencies, said Jon Capacasa, director of the water protection division for EPA's Mid-Atlantic region.

"The EPA will continue to conduct its duties," said Capacasa. "But if Perdue is doing this, there is no need [for the government] to visit these places so frequently. ... I think it's pretty common in today's business world for manufacturers to hold their suppliers responsible for their performance."

Starting next year, Perdue will send employees to 20 to 40 of its largest contract farms on the Delmarva Peninsula. They will ask the farmers if they're following best-management practices, such as cleaning sheds, keeping storm water away from manure piles and minimizing their use of fertilizer on fields. If the one-year pilot program works, Perdue will expand the checkups to all of its contract farms, officials said.

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