Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R -

and the Horsts have sim­i­lar plans. Per­due hopes to add more such farms in Ce­cil County, and Barten­felder said there is a rea­son for the ex­pan­sion north­ward.

“They are look­ing at north­ern Kent, Ce­cil and Penn­syl­va­nia for their move to or­ganic,” he said. “They want to sep­a­rate the or­ganic.”

His com­ments on the farm echoed many of the themes in his Agri­cul­tural Day speech, dur­ing which he said that peo­ple in Ce­cil County are “for­tu­nate” be­cause of all the farms and agri­cul­ture in the county. He also told the crowd about his trip to Cuba as part of the Mary­land del­e­ga­tion in Fe­bru­ary, not­ing that he saw lots of new op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal farm­ers to ex­port to the is­land na­tion.

“It’s time to cap­i­tal­ize on that,” he said, adding that Cubans, by and large, strug­gle to feed them­selves. “It made me re­al­ize how for- tu­nate all of us are here to have what we have.”

At the same time, Barten­felder re­called the mo­ment dur­ing the trip when he re­al­ized the lack of food safety in Cuba. Af­ter eat­ing a slice of ham at one meal, the fol­low­ing day he saw pigs be­ing butchered in the open at a mar­ket, with no ev­i­dence of hy­giene or re­frig­er­a­tion.

“When I went to break­fast, I skipped the ham and had eggs and fruit,” he said.

But while Barten­felder said peo­ple should feel for­tu­nate to live in a county with so many farms, some county res­i­dents may not feel so lucky. Op­po­nents of the Horsts’ chicken farm pro­posal met ear­lier this month to dis­cuss ways to block the pro­ject.

Led by Brian Frymi­are who lives in the Field­crest sub­di­vi­sion off Eng­land Cream­ery Road, neigh­bors of the Horsts fear en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, lost prop­erty val­ues and a loss of en­joy­ment of their prop­erty. On Satur­day, they held a road protest car­ry­ing signs with such mes­sages as “Farms Yes, Fac­to­ries No” and “No chicken fac­to­ries.”

But ac­cord­ing to Charles Hayes, district man­ager of the Ce­cil Soil Con­ser­va­tion District, this is a fam­ily farm, not a fac­tory farm be­cause the Horsts would do all the grow­ing work on site them­selves, and none of the pro­cess­ing is done at the farm.

“These are grow­ing houses,” he said. “It’s very ap­par­ent this is a fam­ily farm.”

Neigh­bors also claim that chicken farms are be­ing run out of Caro­line County and have left be­hind dam­aged res­i­den­tial wells. They point to the num­ber of houses drink­ing bot­tled wa­ter be­cause of ni­trate lev­els.

Dr. Le­land Spencer, health of­fi­cer for the Caro­line County Health Depart­ment, con­firmed the use of bot­tled wa­ter and the ni­trate lev­els, but said both is­sues could be fixed eas­ily.

“The rea­son they have ni­trates in their wa­ter is they have a shal­low well,” he said Mon­day. “We do have a lot of shal­low wells that don’t meet the cur­rent re­quire­ments.”

Spencer said the deeper wells not only tap into a lower aquifer but also that the lay­ers of soil that any fer­til­izer has to travel through to re­turn to the wa­ter table clean the wa­ter nat­u­rally.

“Fer­til­izer doesn’t pen­e­trate that deep into the wa­ter table,” he said.

Spencer also said that chicken houses are still in Caro­line County. As far as his of­fice is con­cerned, Spencer said, chicken farm­ers there are not be­ing run out of the county.

Colby Fer­gu­son, with the Mary­land Farm Bureau, said that in Ce­cil County alone some 620,000 chick­ens are pur­chased in gro­cery stores an­nu­ally, point­ing to the in­creased de­mand for poul­try prod­ucts.

A pre­pared state­ment is­sued Sun­day by the Ce­cil County Farm Bureau urged neigh­bors of all farms to un­der­stand that the farm­ers share their con­cerns about air, land and wa­ter qual­ity.

“We urge our non-farm­ing neigh­bors — those who have been here a life­time and those who are new to the com­mu­nity — to un­der­stand that farm fam­i­lies are also work­ing to meet wa­ter and air qual­ity goals,” the state­ment reads. “Farm­ers are do­ing more, spend­ing more and achiev­ing more to clean up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay than any other sec­tor. In fact we are do­ing more than our fair share since ur­ban ar­eas have been slow to make the nec­es­sary changes.”


Pro­tes­tors op­posed to the chicken farm on Eng­land Cream­ery Road in Zion ral­lied along the road near the farm Satur­day morn­ing.

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