Neighbors hold protest against proposed chicken farm
jbellmyer@ cecilwhig. com
— Opponents of a proposed organic poultry operation staged a protest on Saturday morning to voice their concerns about the project.
Holding signs and waving to passing vehicles, the protesters, led by Brian Frymiare, stood along Route 272 at England Creamery Road in an effort to promote their dislike of the proposed chicken operation, which Galen and Crystal Horst plan to build on their nearby farm.
The Horsts are in the process of getting permits to build four large buildings where they would raise some 200,000 chickens at a time for Perdue Farms. A similar — albeit smaller — operation is already in place along Route 213 in Earleville. The Meck farm has two poultry houses.
Protest signs held Saturday included a silhouette of a chicken in a red circle with a slash as well as others that read “Ground Zero: Stop Perdue Farms” and “Keep Chicken Pollution Out of Cecil County.”
Frymiare said Friday that most of the 14 yard signs erected around the area had disappeared. He planned to file a police report.
Many of the protesters were among those who had gathered at the American Legion in Rising Sun earlier this month to discuss their concerns about the project. Many were upset that they’d received very little information about a project taking place so close to their properties. Along with lower property
values, the group has also expressed concerns about health and environmental issues, as well as harm to the water supply if the project gets approved.
But a few hours later at the Cecil County Fair, the president of the Cecil County Farm Bureau says he wishes people would get all the information before forming an opinion on the plan. Jonathan Quinn was aghast at how divisive the issue had become, which he blamed on misinformation.
“People get on the internet and believe ever ything they read without making a decision toward the middle,” he said. “Seems like people have already got their minds made up.”
At the Cecil County Fair’s Poultry Show, the Horsts’ proposal drew mixed reactions from those in attendance. Lena Tomczak, who lives in Earleville, said she saw the two large buildings at the Meck Farm but was not aware it was a chicken farm until told so by a reporter.
“It looks like it’s pretty secluded,” she said, adding that was in the farm’s favor.
Cindy Cordrey, of Elkton, commented that the chickens would be a good way to diversify one’s farm.
“And there are a lot of benefits to raising chickens as far as they take care a lot of bugs,” she said.
Cordrey said if run properly, these farms would not affect their neighborhoods.
“I know they have pretty restrictive practices they have to adhere to,” she said. As for the use of chicken manure as fertilizer, Cordrey said, “Anything, if you apply it wisely and have a good plan, it could be useful to the community.”
However, Mike Logan, of North East, was against the plans, saying the operation would not be a family farm.
“There are no Perdue birds shown here,” he said, referring to the chickens entered in the 4-H competition Saturday afternoon. “This is family farming with healthy animals.”
Logan said he considers the houses the Horsts hope to build, which have 200,000 birds grown in 7-week cycles, factory farms.
“It’s grow them, kill them and get them out of here,” he said.
( Earlier this month, a representative for Perdue said the chickens would be taken to Milford, Del. for processing.)
Like the Horsts plans for Zion, the southern Cecil County project is free range and organic, but opponents still fear air and water quality effects as well as damage to their property values if the project is permitted.
“From what I understand they have done a pretty good job of destroying the land in Caroline County,” Logan said. “We have plenty of family farms here, not industrial farms.”
However, Quinn, the farm bureau president, said the Horst poultry farm is not a factor y farm, pointing out that the Horsts plan to continue working the farm with their children. As for claims of negative effects on the neighborhood, Quinn said his farm in Warwick is near an even larger poultry operation, and he has suffered no negative effects.
“I’m like a mile from 1.5 million layer chickens and it doesn’t affect my life,” he said.
The Meck Farm has already had two cycles of chickens come through its barns and Quinn noted that most people “saw nothing.”
“These farms are not smelly and dirty like everybody thinks they are,” he said. “Technology has changed so much.”
The Horst project is currently before the Maryland Department of the Environment. Perdue is hoping to have more farms in Cecil County.
Opponents of the proposed chicken farm in Zion protested Saturday morning at Route 272 and England Creamery Road.