Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mega Manure Measurement

Chesapeake Bay is badly polluted from the phosphorous and nitrogen from mega factory chicken farms.  Over 20% of those farms have failed to disclose what they did with their chicken manure, contrary to state law.

Now, Maryland is fining these arrogant and non-compliant CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) for chicken in the North East United States.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Since July 1, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued notices of violation to 104 of the state's 574 "animal feeding operations." Those are farms that are regulated like factories because of the large volumes of manure generated by raising 37,500 or more birds at a time.

In a previous Blog posting, I explained how bad this pollution  has been (see Buried Alive In Chicken Manure).  CAFO chicken farms produce 94% of all nitrogen pollution in streams and lakes of SDelmar Penninsula, and Chesapeake Bay.

In Ontario, Section 15.(2) under O. Reg. 267-03 of the Nutrient Management Act requires a Nutrient Management Plan if your farm:
  • produces 300 or more nutrient units;
  • Is within 100 meters of a municipal potable water well;
  • produces 5 or more NU`s and you apply for a building permit
Layer chickens are 150 birds per NU.  This means layer farms with more than 45,000 layers must have a Mutrient Management Plan. 

Broilers are from 100 to 351 birds per NU (12-week to 8-week grow cycle).  Therefore the smallest broiler farm that must prepare a Nutrient Management Plan is as low as 300,000 broilers.  Quota-bearing chicken farms produced about 192.7 Million birds per year in 2013. The average quota chicken farm raises 187,813 birds per year.  The smallest available quota farm CFO permits without special permission has 14,000 quota units, so with 6.5 grow cycles per year, the minimum factory farmed foul is 91,000 chickens per year.

Based on the previous estimates I made on the Gorillas in the Ontario chicken coops, there is about 71 chicken farmers in Ontario who must have a Nutrient Management Plan (ie. just 7% of the 1,013 quota-based mega chicken farms in Ontario).  This is half of the number of farms in the largest production class, as the median quota units is about the threshold value for the NMP (Nutrient Management Plan).

So if US mega farms are the leading culprit in nitrogen pollution, and 93% of Ontario chicken farms get an exemption on nutrient management, guess how bad the chicken nitrogen pollution is in Ontario?

With 93% of chicken farms with a nutrient management exemption, we are flying blind.  We will know we have a problem when it is too late; the damage will have already occurred when we realize the problem for the first time.  These nutrient management exemptions are obviously in the short term best interest of the mega chicken farmers.

Is this truly in the public's best interest? 

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