Monday, September 25, 2023

Delmarva Chicken Association issues statement on Md. AFO permit ruling

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GEORGETOWN, Del. — Delmarva Chicken Association Executive Director Holly Porter made the following statement after a Montgomery County, Md. Circuit Court judge issued an order in “Assateague Coastal Trust v. Maryland Department of the Environment” requiring further review of the general discharge permit for animal feeding operations:

“It’s no accident the plaintiffs in this case crossed the Chesapeake Bay to file their challenge in chicken-farm-free Montgomery County. They deliberately searched for a forum that rarely adjudicates matters of agricultural law. And it’s no accident that this comes as Assateague Coastal Trust benefits from a $3.6 million windfall from outside backers to fund new anti-agriculture lawsuits. Delmarva Chicken Association fully expects the state of Maryland to appeal this decision and see that the Maryland Department of the Environment’s AFO permit — which received the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval during review — is sustained by a higher court.

“Ambient air quality data collected by Maryland environmental regulators shows that ammonia levels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are far below an MDE-determined 350 parts-per-billion threshold, even in areas near chicken farms. The plaintiffs relied on a faulty mathematical model for ammonia emissions that assumes chicken farms house birds every single day of the year (they don’t), assumes farmers never control ammonia with litter amendments (they do), and assumes the Eastern Shore has no ammonia-absorbing forested land (needless to say, it does). The researchers have admitted their model is ‘not a realistic approach,’ but it fit these plaintiffs’ preconceived notions and they were only too eager to rely on it in court.

“While Maryland farmers work hard to achieve environmental progress, including sustained reductions in nutrients delivered to the Chesapeake Bay, these activists remain determined to put hundreds of farm families out of work by eradicating chicken farming on the Eastern Shore.”

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