Make large processors responsible for chicken manure

August 24, 2010

Your editorial "The chicken waste conundrum" (Aug. 23) was right that the chicken processing industry needs to be properly regulated.

In order to protect the livelihoods of Maryland farmers, we need to practice fair, responsible and sustainable agriculture. That is not what's going on in the chicken processing industry today. Large-scale chicken processors like Tyson and Perdue own the 300 million birds they profit from every year but not the 400,000 pounds of manure those birds create.

Maryland's small farmers, on the other hand, don't own the chickens they raise--just the manure. As you point out in your editorial, "good manure" or fertilizer is essential for farming. On the other hand, too much manure is an environmental hazard.

By failing to deal with their excess manure, chicken processors have caused environmental degradation in our Bay, placed an unfair economic burden on small farmers and created an unsustainable agricultural system. The best way to fix this problem is to require the big chicken processors to take responsibility for their animals' manure.

Clair Embry, Baltimore

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