Md. health of­fi­cial of­fers to be a re­source on chicken farms

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Mary­land De­part­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene Direc­tor of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Dr. Clif­ford Mitchell of­fered to serve as a re­source to cit­i­zens with health con­cerns re­lated to a large chicken farm pro­posed for the Zion area Tues­day morn­ing.

“I’d be happy to be a re­source for more ques­tions,” Mitchell said af­ter be­ing asked by County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore. “My num­ber is 866-703-3266.”

The ex­change took place

ELK­TON

dur­ing a meet­ing with the Ce­cil County Board of Health dur­ing a coun­cil work ses­sion Tues­day morn­ing.

Mitchell joined Ce­cil County Health Of­fi­cer Stephanie Gar­rity and County En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Direc­tor Fred von Staden to ad­dress con­tin­u­ing con­cerns com­ing from cit­i­zens and county of­fi­cials in an at­tempt to ex­plain reg­u­la­tions for rais­ing chick­ens for com­mer­cial use and to de­ter­mine if Ce­cil County needs to tweak their codes for fu­ture projects.

At the cen­ter of the con­tro­versy is a plan to build four chicken houses on a 220- acre dairy farm at 80 Eng­land Cream­ery Road, which is owned by Galen and Crys­tal Horst. The pro­posal has had strong op­po­si­tion from neigh­bors and other con­cerned cit­i­zens wor­ried about pub­lic health and po­ten­tial de­crease in prop­erty val­ues if the project goes through.

“The Horst chicken house pro­posal ex­ceeds reg­u­la­tory and rec­om­mended stan­dards for place­ment of the chicken houses and it will have a com­pre­hen­sive

re­view of its han­dling of ma­nure and live­stock be­fore they will be al­lowed to place birds (in the houses,)” von Staden said, as he sum­ma­rized find­ings of his de­part­ment’s re­search into the project.

Chicken houses fall un­der the cat­e­gory of an­i­mal hus­bandry oper­a­tions in the Ce­cil County Zon­ing laws, which stip­u­late a min­i­mum set­back of 100 feet from the prop­erty line and 300 feet from the near­est dwelling.

The Horst chicken houses are pro­posed to be set­back 600 feet from the prop­erty line and 800 feet from the near­est dwelling, which von Staden noted “far ex­ceeds the min­i­mum re­quire­ment in Ce­cil County and ex­ceeds guide­lines es­tab­lished in Wi­comico County.”

Von Staden ex­plained that a health im­pact as­sess­ment that was done in April for a pro­posed poul­try feed­ing op­er­a­tion in Wi­comico County that pro­poses to build 13 chicken houses re­vealed some detri­men­tal air qual­ity ef­fects on those work­ing in­side a chicken house, but un­clear re­sults when emis­sions are di­luted out­side the chicken houses. Ac­tual con­cen­tra­tions of con­tam­i­nants de­tected at sur­round­ing res­i­dences were much lower than those known to im­pact hu­man health, the study said.

Also, the Wi­comico County Health De­part­ment found no cor­re­la­tion be­tween lo­ca­tions of an­i­mal feed­ing oper­a­tions and wells with high ni­trates, con­sid­er­ing the county’s 110 poul­try oper­a­tions per­mit­ted by Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment.

Be­fore the Horst Farm can re­ceive MDE ap­proval for a chicken feed­ing op­er­a­tion, they will have to get a gen­eral dis­charge per­mit for stormwa­ter prior to con­struc­tion of the chicken houses, which re­quires state ap­proval of all ma­nure re­moval and stor­age pro­cesses, how birds are de­liv­ered and shipped and how dead birds are han­dled, von Staden ex­plained.

The state also re­quires the farm to have a state-ap­proved nu­tri­ent man­age­ment plan and a con­ser­va­tion plan. Cit­i­zens will be able to re­quest a pub­lic hear­ing once MDE re­ceives an ap­pli­ca­tion for a gen­eral dis­charge per­mit for an­i­mal feed­ing oper­a­tions and a pub­lic no­tice is pub­lished.

If MDE is­sues the per­mit, the op­er­a­tion is re­quired to file an­nual im­ple­men­ta­tion re­ports with Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment and the gen­eral per­mit must be re­newed ev­ery five years.

Coun­cil­man Alan McCarthy asked if there was a chance that ni­tro­gen could over­load the soil on the chicken farm.

“Ni­tro­gen lev­els in the soil are con­trolled by re­quired nu­tri­ent man­age­ment plans,” von Staden said. “Safe­guards are al­ready in place.”

He ex­plained that Mary­land im­ple­mented new an­i­mal feed­ing op­er­a­tion reg­u­la­tions, known as CAFO and MAFO, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Both the Horst Farm and the Meck Farm near Ear­leville are con­tracted to raise or­ganic chick­ens for Per­due Farms com­mer­cial food busi­ness. Nei­ther farm can use an­tibi­otics on the chick­ens.

As a re­sult of the Wi­comico County health im­pact study, von Staden said, there was a few pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions made for con­sid­er­a­tion.

They rec­om­mended to adopt leg­is­la­tion adding set­back and buf­fer re­quire­ments con­sis­tent with the Del­marva Poul­try In­dus­try’s Best Man­age­ment Prac­tices for Good Neigh­bor Re­la­tions, in­crease com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the poul­try farmer, re­duc­ing odor im­pacts by im­ple­ment­ing a ma­nure man­age­ment plan and in­creas­ing fund­ing for data col­lec­tion, anal­y­sis and ed­u­ca­tion re­lated to res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease and ill­ness.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

Dr. Clif­ford Mitchell, left, direc­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal health for Mary­land De­part­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene; Ce­cil Health Of­fi­cer Stephanie Gar­rity and Ce­cil Direc­tor of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Fred von Staden dis­cuss poul­try feed­ing oper­a­tions and health is­sues Tues­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore par­tic­i­pates in the Board of Health meet­ing Tues­day to dis­cuss a pro­posed chicken op­er­a­tion and po­ten­tial health im­pacts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.