Thursday, February 29, 2024

DPI adopts good neighbor best management practices

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Barbara Olejnik

Poultry Times Staff

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The poultry industry in Delmarva is voluntarily establishing self-imposed rules that aim at being good neighbors when constructing new chicken houses.

The Best Management Practices for Good Neighbor Relations — adopted by the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. board of directors — is an effort by the chicken industry to be good neighbors while allowing the construction and operation of chicken houses in areas of counties where chicken houses are allowed to be built and operated.

The board, consisting of chicken growers, representatives of the five chicken companies and business suppliers of products and services, acted after a workgroup of growers, chicken company personnel and others made recommendations to update a previous 10-year-old best management document.

The Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., which represents the poultry industry in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, noted that “Poultry growers want to be good neighbors and are committed to working hard to achieve that goal.”

DPI noted that the poultry industry has been an important component of the Delmarva peninsula for more than 90 years and has provided a rural way of life for farm families while providing jobs for others directly or indirectly related to the poultry industry.

However, DPI pointed out that the poultry industry also faces challenges from neighbors.

“Urban encroachment from persons not familiar with good operating practices on poultry farms and new technologies in poultry houses have led to some misunderstandings and challenges,” DPI stated.

The voluntary good neighbor best management practices “are offered in lieu of government intervention to improve relationships among poultry growers and their neighbors,” DPI added.

The voluntary guidelines will apply to new poultry houses on a farm, but not for new houses replacing old, out of production houses or now-destroyed houses. However, DPI said, county land use and zoning authorities are urged to grandfather poultry production on that site to allow continued agricultural businesses.

Included in the voluntary guidelines are the following:

  • For new poultry houses and accessory structures, a minimum 400-footsetback with a buffer from a legal residential dwelling not on the poultry farm. There can be a site specific reduction of the 400-foot setback with installation of additional buffers to create a setback of no less than 300 feet.
  • New poultry houses and accessory buildings should have a minimum of 200 feet from the center of the public road with installation of a minimum 25-foot-wide Vegetative Environmental Buffer.
  • New poultry houses and accessory buildings should have a minimum setback of 100 feet from property lines with a recommended 50-foot-wide buffer of a 25-foot-wide buffer with increased plant density.

The guidelines also note that the poultry industry should keep neighboring areas in mind when constructing new poultry houses. This includes:

  • Allow adequate vehicle access while minimizing noise-related concerns for adjoining properties.
  • Locate tunnel fans on ends of houses where minimal inconvenience to neighbors.
  • When configuring poultry houses and manure structures/composters, consider direction of prevailing winds and the proximity to neighbors of movement of odors, dust and feathers to adjoining properties.

DPI pointed out that while such things are normal for poultry farms and should not be considered nuisances in agriculturally zoned areas, they could be objectionable to persons not familiar with chicken production.

“While state and country right to farm laws should exonerate poultry growers from  such complaints, growers need to make every effort, when practical, to minimize such practices that some people would consider offensive. Even when poultry houses and manure structures/composters are properly located to avoid neighbor disturbances, Vegetative Environmental Buffers should be encouraged,” the guidelines state.

The DPI guidelines for good neighbor best management practices also point out that despite the long history and importance to the poultry industry to Delmarva, many persons are unaware of how the industry operates.

The guidelines noted that growers often change operation plans and neighbors should be given a “heads up” about proposed changes in order to gain their support and prevent problems later on.

“For this reason, it is important that poultry growers reach out to their neighbors to show them how they grow chickens and why things are done as they are. Practicing good biosecurity, poultry growers should share information about their operation with neighbors. Show them what goes on inside the poultry house.

“Few thing can create neighbor antagonism quicker than not living up to your commitments. Poultry growers need to do what they say they are going to do. Being a good neighbor is as simple as practicing the Golden Rule.,” DPI concluded.

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