Family Farmers Ask Maryland Legislators to Oppose Costly, Unneeded Air Monitoring Bill

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI) members, including family farmers raising chickens, testified against Senate Bill 133 in the Maryland General Assembly, urging members of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee to vote for an unfavorable report on the legislation as written.

The bill, crossfiled in the House of Delegates as House Bill 26, would require Maryland taxpayers to finance a study determining how to monitor air emissions from 245 family farms raising animals. The bill as it is written would not actually improve public health, and it ignores all the evidence showing Eastern Shore air is clean and healthy.

DPI is also sharing with its members, with legislators, and with the public a clearinghouse of information about air quality on Maryland's Eastern Shore so Marylanders can rest assured chicken farms are completely compatible with clean, healthy air quality.

"I've spent almost every day of the past 43 years in chicken houses," said Bobbie Reed, a Caroline County family farmer. "I do appreciate the concerns that people have about health issues for them and their children, but I have yet to see any scientific evidence that chicken houses are the cause of that. As we retire, our grandson is taking over our poultry operation. I'm completely confident that we are not putting him in any danger."

"When I walk into the chicken house, if I'm not comfortable, my chickens are not comfortable," said Mary Lou Brown, who with her family owns and operates a chicken farm in Hurlock, Maryland. "I ventilate my houses very carefully and have vegetative buffers completely surrounding my chicken houses. I want to ensure the quality of life for my family and my neighbors while providing food."

"Long-running air quality monitoring in the heart of Delmarva's chicken-producing region shows air here is cleaner, with lower particulate levels, than the EPA's standard for particulate matter, and cleaner than air in our region's urban areas," said Holly Porter, DPI's assistant executive director. "In Wicomico County, where there are hundreds of family-owned chicken houses, the adult asthma rate is lower than the Maryland average."

"It makes no sense to have a Maryland-only system of measuring air emissions from family-owned farms because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of developing a detailed national protocol," said Bill Satterfield, DPI's executive director. "There is a huge cost associated with developing the protocol and using it on all large animal-feeding operations."

Bobbie Reed, who raises chickens with her family in Caroline County, Maryland.

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