Let’s learn from oth­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ences

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -


In a re­cent Ce­cil Whig ar­ti­cle re­gard­ing the pro­posed chicken “farm,” of course Mary­land Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder would be for the en­ter­prise. Agri­cul­ture is his liveli­hood. How­ever, I doubt very much that he would ap­pre­ci­ate a neigh­bor of his build­ing four huge chicken barns in his back­yard!

Ac­cord­ing to the pa­per, the chick­ens have an eight-week life cy­cle, seven of which would be spent in the barns here in Zion. That amounts to over a mil­lion chick­ens a year be­ing raised on that prop­erty. I don’t care how improved tech­nol­ogy is to­day — that is a lot of chicken waste to deal with. Of­fi­cials say that be­cause the waste is dry, it does not smell. What hap­pens when it is spread on the fields and gets rained on?

Charles Hayes, man­ager of the Ce­cil Soil Con­ser­va­tion District, says that the busi­ness falls into the def­i­ni­tion of a fam­ily farm and not a fac­tory farm be­cause the fam­ily will live and work on the prop­erty and the chick­ens won’t be slaugh­tered there. As a neigh­bor, I don’t re­ally care about the dif­fer­ence in the def­i­ni­tion be­tween fam­ily and fac­tory farms — just the vast size of the op­er­a­tion makes it un­de­sir­able!

It is des­tined to change the qual­ity of life for the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity, and not for the bet­ter! Mr. Barten­felder’s and Mr. Hayes’ homes are not be­ing de­val­ued; their health and the health of their fam­i­lies are not be­ing threat­ened; their wells are not in dan­ger of be­ing con­tam­i­nated; and they aren’t the ones who will be deal­ing with the smells or any of the prob­lems.

Per­due of­fi­cials have said that they are look­ing to have 180 new chicken houses to raise their or­ganic chick­ens. Half of these will be old barns that would be retro­fit­ted to suit their needs while the rest of the barns would be new con­struc­tion. An uniden­ti­fied county farmer wants to do a six-house project while an­other one is wait­ing to start the per­mit­ting process. The Zion chicken houses are just the be­gin­ning!

Doc­u­men­ta­tion from com­mu­ni­ties near other long­stand­ing chicken farms shows the neg­a­tive ef­fects to the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity. Let’s learn from their ex­pe­ri­ences. We don’t want to be­come a statis­tic. We don’t want a huge chicken “farm” in our neigh­bor­hood!

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